Blueprint Myth Week 4: Choose or Lose

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

> Mommy told me that if I'm good and I read my Bible and say my prayers, God will help me discover my destiny. Like in the movies! Find my perfect princess, be a hero, save the world. But, what if I mess it up? What if I'm not brave enough?

> Will God take away my happy ending if I fail in my duties as a mother? What is God's will in my life anyway? I thought I did everything right. Why do I feel so overwhelmed all the time? I wish God would just set the table for me and all I had to do was sit at it. Maybe I just need to pray more, read my Bible and talk to my pastor.

> Talk to my pastor, they say. Connect and have more accountability. Serve more, they say. Well, I'm doing all of these things and I still feel so lost. I thought that as I got older I'd be able to discover what God's perfect plan was for my life. And yet, here we are in debt, struggling with lust. It seems like I'm just surviving. Where did I mess it up? Why won't God just speak to me like He does in the Bible and tell me the game plan? Sometimes I wonder: Is there really a plan that God wrote for my life that I'm supposed to follow?

> All these years and I still have to tiptoe to do the right thing. What about my free will? Maybe there is no rulebook. Maybe I can relax a little. Maybe His will and His call are too separate things. I don't know anymore. I just wish I could see my plan. I wish I could just see my blueprint.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch the mobile app and the internet. We welcome you as well. We're in a series called "The Blueprint Myth" and this is week number four of a four-week series. If you're brand new and today is your first time, you probably are having that thought of "I'm walking in on week number four of a four-week series. Am I going to be lost?"

No. Let me put you at ease. I'll bring you up to speed because I do this at the beginning of every message because I always am of the opinion that there's somebody here that's new every time I speak. I'm also of the opinion that there's good people that come on a regular basis that maybe missed a week or two and it's just always good to catch everybody back up to speed. So, here's what we've been doing over the last four weeks. We've been taking a journey and sort of looking at a perennial issue in the church. An issue that so many people get jammed up and seized up. It just creates a lot of issues in a lot of people's lives and it doesn't help that there's books written every year – hundreds of them – and they all say different things. There's thousands of sermons preached and they say different things.

It's this issue of God's will. What does God want for my life? What does God want me to do? How would I know? How could I find God's will or whatever words that we use? So, we've been looking at that over the past three weeks and now week number four. We've been looking at, "Hey, what does the Bible say about God's will? What's all this stuff about God's will?"

And what I asked everybody to do at the beginning – and we're still doing this – is to sort of put maybe what you think or what you've been taught or what you caught from being around church and sort of the folksy understanding of God's will, put that on the shelf for a little bit and let's just go through the Bible and let's just sort of look at things and see if maybe there's not a better way to look at God's will. Because, I'm of the opinion – this is just my opinion and I feel like I'm right on this. But, I always try to preface everything with that it's my opinion.

I think that when we truly figure out what God wants for our lives, it does not lead us to bondage and being jammed up and seized up. I believe God always leads us to freedom. He leads us to an abundant life. So, when I see something as a pastor where people are seized up and almost in chains with something, I go, "Something's wrong here, because that's just not the way serving God is all about."

So, that being said, let me sort of give you a summary of what we've been doing up to this point. I think it'll be good for everybody, even if you've been here for all three weeks.

First of all, we've been talking about, when it comes to God's will, that there's three basic ways that you and I relate to God in our lives. First of all, there is the sovereign will of God. The sovereign will of God, that's just what God's going to do regardless of what you and I think or what history says or what people choose to do. God's going to get accomplished the things that God wants to get accomplished. This is what you can see when Peter, on the day of Pentecost, preaches to the Jewish people and he's telling them about Jesus and he says, "Listen, you crucified this Jesus. But, God planned it before hand that it would happen."

And we read those things and we go, "How does all that work?"

The reality is is that there is a sovereign will of God that is going to get accomplished no matter what. And God does not share that with you and me. When it comes to God's sovereign will, we've just got to trust Him. We've got to trust that He's got the future in His hands, that He holds the whole world in His hands and we've just got to trust Him. God doesn't share His sovereign will with us. If He shared His sovereign will with us, we wouldn't have to trust Him for anything. We could just sort of do whatever we wanted to do and move on because we would know what the plan was before it happened.

So, that's one way God's will is discussed in Scripture. The way that's most important for you and me is God's synergistic will. That's what He's revealed to you and me in Scripture. He's told us about 95% of all the things that you and me would ever need to do in our lives. It's been clearly revealed and articulated in Scripture. We're told what to do. When somebody does us wrong, we're told how to respond to that. We're told how to raise our kids. We're told how to love our spouses. We're told how to handle our finances. We're told what to do when somebody does us wrong in church. We're told ethical things; what's right and what's wrong.

All of those things are clearly articulated in Scripture, and that's the stuff that God wants you and me to obey Him with. To just clearly follow what He said to do. Then there's just the day to day stuff like what college should I go to, what car should I buy, should I do this or should I do that? That is a real difficult thing for you and me. The day to day stuff.

We've also talked, during this series, that we've moved more from talking about God's will in terms of finding it to in terms of doing it. Scripture no where tells us to find God's will. And that's where I said a lot of us have that folks understanding. If you've been raised in church and you listen to people pray and whatever, "Hey, we're going to pray that you just find God's will on this. We're just going to pray, you know."

It's sort of like God's just got His will under a rock three feet down in a box to the left and if you just do the right things and pray the right way, you'll sort of get that and find that will of God. And yet, nobody wants to talk about it. But, everybody's going, "I'm trying to find it. But, I really can't find it. I don't know what's going on."

Scripture doesn't tell us to find God's will. It tells us to do God's will. In other words, God has clearly articulated to you and me the things He wants us to do. It's not a matter of finding it. You don't have to go, "Well, you know, I just need to find what God's will is for me to love my wife."

You don't need to find anything. You just need to do that. You know? So, we've moved from finding to doing. Then, on top of that, last week we talked about, "What do I do in the day to day decision?"

The things that are not necessarily theological or they're just sort of the day to day stuff. You know? What college do I go to? What car do I buy? Things that I want to please God with in my life. How do I do that? We gave everybody sort of a step here to choose how to do those things in their lives by going to Scripture. What does it address in principle? By spending time in prayer. Getting godly council. And then processing through that and making a decision. And I think most people up to this point, if you've been here for the three weeks, are going, "Okay, Chip. I get it. I got the idea of God's will. I understand we're not trying to find it. I understand we're trying to do it. And I understand that there's a step for me to be able to choose. But, just to be honest with you, sometimes I just don't want to make a choice. When it comes to choice time, even though I've talked about it and even though I've prayed about it, it's just sort of hard for me to make a choice."

Let me explain why that's the case for you and me particularly. First of all, our souls have been shaped and formed in a culture that teaches personally fulfillment is the goal of life. We're inundated with it. The books that we read. The self-help books. The shows on TV. It's all about "what fulfills me?" I want to do a job that fulfills me. I want to be in a relationship that fulfills me.

And yet, when you look at Jesus – and I think all of us would agree even if you're brand new here and you're not even into the Christian thing and you just sort of showed up today and you're not quite sure what's going on. Maybe you showed up because it was Mother's Day and you promised your mom that you would show up or you came with her or whatever. But, the reality is that I think anybody, whether you're a Christian or not a Christian, would go, "Hey, the whole idea of Christian is really based around this guy Jesus. We're supposed to be followers of Jesus. We're supposed to look like Jesus."

Did you notice something about Jesus in Scripture? He never, ever, ever, ever, ever was about trying to personally fulfill His own life. He wanted to please His Father. When He tried to please His Father, He knew that His Father had His back and would life Him up. So, we live in a culture where we're inundated with "everything ought to be about personal fulfillment."

I'll tell you why. It's because we're so affluent. If you could go back 40 or 50 years with me, you wouldn't find anybody. If you walked up to them, maybe a plant worker or somebody that was on a farm, a farmer, and you walked up to them and we could go back in time and we could walk up, we walk out to the farm house, we walk up, here's Farmer Joe. He's out there. He's doing his thing. He's got his steer doing all this stuff and digging up and whatever. We go up to him and we go, "Farmer Joe, I want to ask you a question."

He's like, "What's the question?"

"Are you personally fulfilled?"

He'd be like, "I don't know what you're talking about. What do those words even mean?"

See, for us, we've been told that everything is about personal fulfillment. That's huge. This is the reason why we have a hard time choosing and making decision. So, we've been shaped in a culture that tells us personal fulfillment is what it's all about. Secondly, the overwhelming amount of choices that we face in today's society. When you couple "my life's supposed to be about me being personally fulfilled" with the fact that "I've got so many choices that I could choose from," what we do is we seize up because we feel like if we make that one choice, it might not lead to the life that we want to have in personal fulfillment. And that seizes us up.

I don't know if you know this or not, but in your history books, if you read, it's right in the middle. It's called "the day the world went to hell." It was when they stopped offering vanilla and chocolate ice cream at the ice cream shops and Baskin Robin's came along and gave us over thirty choices. That's the day. Mark it down in history. That is the day when the world went to hell. Because, all of a sudden, we had all these choices to make and we didn't know what to do.

But, I want you to lean in here and understand this. The reason we jam up – we can sit here and talk about God's will and we can talk about all the great stuff and everybody would go, "Yeah, that's great."

Whatever. But then it comes to choosing and we seize up because we've been taught that, "Hey, if I make the wrong decision, it might have these really bad consequences and I might not be personally fulfilled. So, I'm going to sit back and wait and do all these things."

You know, have you ever thought about this? If God would tell us everything that we needed to do, if it ended up not going out the way we wanted it to go, we could blame it on Him, not us, right? Think about that for a minute. I'll tell you what. I had a moment in my life – and you guys have got to keep this in. I know it's going to get out there on the internet. So, those of you all watching on the internet and the mobile app, this is where you just need to plug your ears for a minute here. Don't listen to Chip here reveal some of his life.

I grew up listening to rock and roll music. I mean, man, I loved rock and roll music. My hair. Some of y'all are like, "Yeah!"

Oh, yeah. My kids get a good dose of Jesus and Van Halen. So, anyway, that's the way we roll at the Bennett house. If anybody came in here today and they're visitors and they're religious people, they're like, "Yeah, I'm not coming back to this church. He's wearing jeans and talking about Van Halen."

So, anyway, the deal is this: I had become a Christian and I had long hair, believe it or not, at one time in my life. I played rock guitar and all of that good stuff. So, I was in my car – this is after I'd become a Christian – and I was listening to a band named Rush. They're a Canadian band. Alright, we've got come Geddy Lee and Neil Peary fans in here and Alex Lifeson. So, anyway, this is church, folks. Come on. Don't be too carnal in here.

But, the deal is I was listening to a song by Rush. And normally, as a musician, I listen to guitars, bass and the drums. I'm not really one that listens a lot to lyrics. Like, my wife, Mindy, knows all the lyrics to all the songs. Sometimes I don't even know the lyrics to the songs that I love because I don't really listen to lyrics. As a musician, I'm listening to the band. Well, I happened to be listening to the lyrics one time with Rush and the line was "If you decide to not choose, you still have made a choice."

That's great. Somebody's singing, in the front row, Rush for me right now. "You still have made a choice." That's great. But, it dawned on me. So many of us, when we get jammed up and we don't want to choose, by not choosing you still have made a choice. So, we've got to learn to press forward and make these choices because God has given you and me creativity. He didn't create you and me to be robots. He's given us creativity. He's given us minds. He's given us choices. In fact, God loves when you decide to sit down and go, "I'm going to drive a Toyota or I'm going to drive a Ford or I'm going to drive a BMW," or whatever it is that you drive. I mean, I don't think God's mad at you for enjoying cars if you like cars. I don't think God's mad at you if you sit down and try to figure out what college that you want to go to and use the mind that He's given you and the creativity that He's given you.

In fact, I think He wants you to use your mind that way and I think that all He wants you to do is honor Him in the things that you do and honor Him in the way that you go about stuff and ask for godly wisdom and pray about it and make sure that you're not outside of what God's Scripture is. And then, make a choice. But, sometimes, it's so difficult for us to make a choice.

What I want to do is I want to talk to you about a story that many of you all may be familiar with. But, it's a story that I sort of want to recount again to everybody, or retell, so that we're familiar with it. I think you're going to enjoy it because it's a story where a young lady has to make a choice and she has no idea what the outcome of that choice is going to be. But, we learn a lot about God's will and we learn a lot about making decisions in this particular story.

This story is the story of Esther. I'm going to give you a little – y'all will probably enjoy this. As you know, me and Mindy have five... six kids together. Well, hold on. Hold on. You'll understand why my mind went there. The first five, she named. So, you can see, the scar is still there. So, I did what any good husband would do when the sixth one came along. I put my foot down and said, "I'm naming this kid."

You know? So, anyway, I want to name. We found out she was going to be a girl and Mindy said, "Well, what name do you like?"

I said, "I like Esther."

She was like, "Really? That sounds like a name from about 40 or 50 years ago."

And I'm like, "That's going to be the name."

I'm just kidding. It wasn't like that. But, Esther is our youngest girl. So, I want to tell you the story of Esther. If you know the story of Esther, I think you'll still enjoy it. But, I'm going to assume that you don't know the story of Esther because I think it would be unfair of me to assume that everybody knows this story. And I think we all probably know it at different levels. I've found out, as a professor, oftentimes I'll ask people, "Do you know the story," and then when I ask them to tell me the story, they know some of the story but they don't know the full story.

So, I'm going to tell you the full story here. And let me just say up front that these names that are in the Bible in the Old Testament, they're some wild names, okay? And I'm a guy that you have no idea. I am so obsessive compulsive that I have to call it CDO to alphabetize, you know what I'm talking about? It's no longer OCD. So, I like to get everything perfect. Everything. Pronunciation. Everything. Let me tell you something: There's no good way to pronounce biblical names because even scholars disagree on this stuff. We don't know. Just call if whatever you want to call it. But, the deal is I'm going to talk about a bunch of crazy names that you've never heard before. When you're reading the Bible, you might look at it and go, "I'm going to read that differently."

Feel free because everybody just makes up whatever they want to do when it comes to these biblical names. Anyway, we're going to talk about a king, Xerxes. In the book of Esther, his name is Ahasuerus. King Ahasuerus is throwing a big feast when we enter into the book of Esther. This big feast that's going on, it's like open bar. In fact, I think Van Halen was playing at this feast, just to be honest.

But, the deal was that the king's throwing this big feast, everybody's having a great time, it's a big party and, in the middle of the party he decides, "You know what I want to do? I've got a beautiful wife. Her name is Vashti. I'm going to have her put on her royal garments and I'm going to have her come out and wow the crowd with her beauty."

So, he summons for his wife and says, "Hey, put on your stuff. Get made up and everything. Come out and do your thing."

She refuses to do it. Well, that angers the king. He's very, very, very upset about this. It frustrates him. So, we find out that he sits down with his group, his counsel, his wisemen, and he says, "What do you think we ought to do about this?"

They say, "Well, there's only one thing to do. You need to get you a new wife, dude."

It didn't say "new wife, dude," I'm just tell you the story here in 2017. So, he says, "Okay. That sounds like a great plan."

So, she's no longer going to be out in public anymore. She's been told to go somewhere else. So now, he starts looking for his queen. Well, Mordecai has raised a little girl named Hadassah, whose name is Esther in Scripture. She's a young Jewish girl. Her mom and dad have passed away and Mordecai is her cousin. Mordecai raises Esther. When Esther and Mordecai hear that the king's looking for a royal bride, Esther goes and joins that large group of women that are vying for the king's heart.

Well, as the story goes, Esther stands out among all of them and the king ends up marrying Esther. Now, he doesn't know that she's Jewish. But, he marries Esther. Well, there's this guy named Haman. He's a dude who is sort of the negative guy in the story. He's gone to the king and they've talked. The king and everybody likes for everybody to honor them when they come through the town. So one day Haman's coming through the town and Mordecai, who is a pious Jew, and everybody sort of bows to Haman, he doesn't. He doesn't bow to him because he doesn't bow to anybody but God.

Well, Haman doesn't like this. He's mad. So, he goes to the king and says, "Hey, look. There's some people in your kingdom that don't do it like anybody else does. They just do it their own way. They don't bow down. None of that stuff. We need to get rid of these people."

And the king says, "Alright."

Well, he doesn't really say that. But, that's sort of what he says. He says, "Okay. We're going to do this thing."

So, what they do is they sort of cast lots to figure out the day that they're going to kill all the Jewish people in Persia. Now, this edict goes out and Mordecai gets wind of the fact that the king is going to kill God's people. And he's distraught. I mean, you know, it's a big deal to him. He falls down and starts praying and does what they do in the Old Testament. Sackcloth, ashes and everything. So, we're going to enter the story here because Esther has a personal assistant. His name is Hathach. Hathach is the go-between between Mordecai and Esther as we pick up on the story here that the king has agreed to kill all the Jews in Persia. Let's pick the story up here, because it's a really good story.

It says, "Mordecai also gave him [Hathach] a copy of the written decree issued in Susa ordering their destruction."

So, Mordecai has Hathach, which is Esther's personal assistant. He gets him together and he says, "Look. Here's the written decree that's ordering the destruction of our people. Would you go take that to Esther?"

So, Hathach might show it to Esther, explain to her and command her to approach the king, implore his favor and plead with him personally for her people. Sounds like a great plan, right? I mean, Mordecai knows that Esther's married to the king. The king loves his wife. She's beautiful. She also happens to be Jewish. So, Mordecai's thinking, "Hey, the way to overcome this problem, the way to overcome this massacre that's going to happen, this genocide that's going to happen to the Jewish people, why don't you, Hathach, go to Esther and give her this decree? Show her what's going on and ask her to approach the king, implore his favor and plead with him personally for her people."

This would be a great time for her to go, "Hey, and by the way, I'm Jewish too and you're going to kill all my people."

You know? So, it's a great plan. Mordecai's got it all figured out. This is the way to do it. We've got it all handled. So, Hathach came and repeated Mordecai's response to Esther. Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to tell Mordecai. So, we've got this go-between here going on. So, Esther says to Hathach, "Go back and tell Mordecai this information that he may or may not be aware of. He's probably not aware of this or he wouldn't have sent you to me in the first place. Here's the reality: All of the royal officials and all the people of the royal provinces know. Everybody knows this. One law applies to every man or woman who approaches the king in the inner courtyard and who has not been summoned. There's one law. Everybody knows this law. If the king hasn't called you to come in – I know, Mordecai, that you want me to go in and implore the king and tell him all the stuff that you want me to tell him, but there's a little bit of an issue here. If you go in to see the king and you have not been summoned to see the king, what happens is this: It's the death penalty. You get killed unless the king extends the gold scepter, allowing that person to live."

I want to confess to you all something: The Bible translation really does say "that person to live." Somehow, in my user error, I forgot the "to" there. So, if you're wondering what translation this is, this is a botched Chip Bennett version of the Christian Standard Bible. So, sorry about that.

"But, the reality is that the death penalty is what happens. In other words, if I just roll in on the king to talk to the king and he doesn't extend the scepter, then I die. And, just so you know, I haven't been summoned to appear before the king for the last 30 days. So, it's not like the king's in some mad rush to get ahold of me to bring me in."

"In other words, I may not be going in front of the king for a while. The reality is, dude, if I go in front of the king and he hasn't summoned me and he doesn't put out the scepter, I die. I'm smart enough to realize that he 'bye Felicia'd' Vashti, so he might do the same thing to me. You know?"

So, we've got this going on. Esther's response was reported back to Mordecai. So, Hathach goes back to Mordecai. Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, "Don't think that you're going to escape the fate of all the Jews because you're in the king's palace. You know? Listen, I raised you. I know you're a Jew. And this decree is to kill every Jew. When the king finds out that you're a Jew, even though he may have killed everybody else, don't think that somehow you're going to escape all of that. If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place. But, you and your father's family are going to be destroyed."

I love the practical sense here of Mordecai. Mordecai is a man of faith. He says, "I know that God's not going to turn His back on His people. I know that He's not going to do that because God doesn't turn His back on His kids. He doesn't do that."

But, he doesn't know how He's going to accomplish it. He's doing everything that he can within his power to accomplish it in the way that he thinks is best. He's going, "Let me go to Esther. Let me send her to the king. That sounds like a good thing."

He's doing everything within his ability to accomplish life. But, he's also trusting in God at the same time that even if you don't do it, God will still do what God does.

"Who knows, Esther? I don't know and you don't know. Who knows. Perhaps you've come to your royal position for such a time as this. We don't know. Could be. We don't know for sure. But, what I do know is this: I know God doesn't turn His back on His kids. So, I know God's going to do what God does. But, maybe you're the one that God will use. But, none of us know."

So, Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don't eat or drink for three days; night or day. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I'm going to go to the king even if it's against the law."

Listen. Lean in and look up here: "If I perish, I perish."

I want you to just let this sink in for a second here and look at what we can sort of conclude a little bit from what's going on here. First of all, she didn't try to divine the will of the Lord. She didn't ask for a sign. She didn't ask for any kind of peace about it. Not at all. None of that's in there at all in any way, shape or form. She didn't say, "Okay, God. What I want You to do is I want You to tell me what the king's going to do. I want You to plan out the future for me. I want You to tell me what my choice should be. I want You to..."

None of that. She didn't say, "Oh, God, if You could just give me a sign so I would know that this is exactly what's going to happen so I would know."

She didn't take a piece of paper and try to throw it in the waste paper basket and do the, "Hey, God. If it goes in, I know that You want me to go. But, I don't know. It fell on the floor. Let me try it again."

You know? She didn't do any of that stuff. She didn't turn on TheJoyFM and say, "When I press the button, whatever song's on, that's going to be what I'm supposed to do today."

She didn't open up the Jewish Scripture and play Bible roulette. You know? "Oh, boom. There we go. There's the Scripture."

She didn't do any of that. She didn't ask for God to give her some sort of peace about anything. Nothing. And, on top of it, she had no promise of what the future held at all. She said, "If I perish, I perish."

But, what she did do is she consecrated herself to God, asked for intense prayer and she prayed herself, and then she made a decision. She stepped out. She trusted God. You know, for you and me, we've got to get to the place where we trust God. You know, you don't know when you get out of the boat that you're going to walk on the water. But you've got to get out of the boat if you're going to walk on the water.

You know, there was 11 dudes that were in a boat that never got to walk on the water. Did you think about that? I mean, the odds aren't very high. Most of us probably would've stayed in the boat. Here's the funny thing: You know what? It was more dangerous to be in the boat than it was to be out on the water with Jesus. We don't really think about it that way, do we? Like, "I'm going to stay here in the boat, man. This guy's out here in the storm. This is crazy stuff."

But, the reality is that at some point we've got to trust God. You know, decisions are tough for you and me to make and we've got to be able to do those things. So, that being said, here's what I want you to do. I want you to get out your sheet of paper and I want you to get out your journals if you have them. I want you to write these down. These are what I call "series take-homes." These are the things that not only do I want you to take home today, but I want you to think about these over the next week. I want you to think about these over the next month.

Because, this is important to me. I just would ask everybody to lean in here for a second. As your pastor, the thing that I'm more concerned about than anything is I want to make sure that I'm faithful to Scripture in what I teach and I want to make sure that I equip you to live the life God has called you to live. In Ephesians 4, it says God places people like me in the body to equip the saints. That's ultimately what I'm supposed to do. And I want you to understand something: The star of a church is not me. The star of a church is you. You're the stars. I'm just the coach. I'm the coach that helps you all to become better. That's my role. The stars in a church are you all.

You know? When you watch any professional sport, it's not the coach that's the star. It's the players that are the stars. We're all players. Every single one of us. That's why Christianity can't be a spectator sport. That's why I spend time on a subject like this because I know that God's will bogs people down and seizes people up and they don't know how to make decisions, they don't know how to choose. It just seizes them up. And I don't want you to live that way. I want you to be able to live your life in full and complete trust in God in freedom and walk around with such a joy and a peace and a kindness in your heart that people look at you and go, "Man, what are you taking? Because, I want some of that."

"It's because I go to a church where the pastor watches and listens to Van Halen."

Anyway. I'm just kidding. But, write these down. These are some series take-homes. Some things that you can really apply and think about not only today, but for the next few weeks for sure. First of all, living God's will in our lives. You say, "I want to live God's will. I want to do God's will. I want to do all that, Chip."

It isn't about everything turning out perfect. It means being committed to having Christ formed in us. That's a big difference. Because, see, we do. And listen, I'm not being negative. I'm not throwing stones. I'm just using this as an analogy. I think you can flip on Christian TV and you can find somebody that will be on there that will tell you everything's about life being great and no problems or struggles. God wants you to have big planes and big cars and never have any sickness or disease or any of that stuff. And there's an allure to that type of message because our souls are crafted in this world that says, "Everything is about me being personally fulfilled. Hey, if I could just use Jesus to get what I want, then that sounds great."

But, at the end of the day, then who's the boss? I am. I'm just using Jesus to get what I want. That's not the biblical way of looking at it. When we say we want to live God's will in our lives, what we're saying is, "I'm committed, come hell or high water. I'm committed whether it's in good or bad. I'm committed whether it's the bad thing or the good thing. I'm committed to serving God. I'm committed in all of it to let God work in my life because it's about Him and it's not about me."

If we're going to live God's will out in our lives, this is something that we've got to really think about. It's not about everything turning out perfect. So many Christians that I talk to, they go, "I want to get this right. I want to do God's will. Because, I know if I get the right thing here and do the right thing there, then the outcome's going to be the right thing."

That's not necessarily true. Sometimes it takes some bad experiences for you and me to get Christ formed into you and me. It takes bad experiences for us to learn about the character of God. Listen, if there wasn't sin, we wouldn't know God as Savior. If there wasn't sickness, we wouldn't know God as healer. All of those things work together, somehow, for good. We've got to trust Him and not the outcomes that we want for our lives. Right? This is really better preaching than you all are letting on, I think. I have to amen myself up here.

"Go Chip!"

Anyway. Number two here: Living God's will in our lives doesn't imply that we'll always know exactly what to do. Sometimes you're not going to know. You do the best you can. You talk to the people that you can talk to. You pray about it. You spend some time to pray about it. Then you go and make a decision and you just have to do it and you've got to trust God. You've got to trust. Like Mordecai. Mordecai's going, "Hey, go talk to the king. Go do all this stuff. But, I know God's going to take care of everything. Go do this. Go do this. Go do this. I know God's going to take care of it."

Sometimes that's just the way it is and you go, "Man, that's sort of a crazy life."

It is the life of a Christian. We do all that we can. We pray all that we can do. We make all the decisions that we can. But, ultimately, we trust in the sovereign hand of God, that He is a good God and that He has our back. Scripture talks about that all the way through. I've got a couple of people that are clapping like, "Yeah. Alright."

They've been listening to Van Halen out there. Anyway, here we go. Number three: Living God's will in our lives honors the genuine freedom that He's given us to choose, while at the same time submitting ourselves to His sovereign will. It's a balance. God has given you and me talents, abilities, creativity. He wants us to use those things. Your Heavenly Father smiles when you decide that you like a Toyota better than a Honda, because that's what you like. He smiles when I pick a Honda over a Toyota. He's okay with that. We don't have to get jammed up on those things.

You know, when you're choosing for college and there's 40 colleges to choose from, pray about it, look at what's good, study the thing, but then make a decision and trust that God has got your back. You don't have to know everything that's going on. You just use your freedom and then also rest in the fact that He's sovereign; He's God. You and I can risk the future because He doesn't have to. He holds it in His hands.

Fourth: Living God's will in our lives is to ultimately trust in His redeeming power. No matter what goes on in our lives, God can redeem. This is the beautiful trajectory of Scripture. Even though we did all kinds of things that we lost, God can restore all of those things back. He's a redeeming God. You know, you may be here this morning and you may feel like you've made a lot of bad decisions and squandered a lot of things. Let me tell you something: Your Heavenly Father can redeem those things in your life. Your Heavenly Father will redeem those things even if it's into eternity. He will eventually redeem all things. We're told that if we love God and are called according to His purpose, He works all things together for good.

We've got to be able to feel free to risk some decisions knowing that God has our back. I want you to listen to this for a second: On the third day, Esther – they fasted for three days, remember? On the third day, Esther goes before the king and secures deliverance for her people. On the third day, Esther goes before the king and secures deliverance for her people.

Somebody else, on the third day, secured deliverance for His people. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God can deliver you? Do you believe that He's got your back? The beauty of the story, too, is that Haman built gallows to hang Mordecai. He was going to hang him there and he was taking pride in it. Well, the story concludes with Haman being hung in the gallows that he constructed for Mordecai. The enemy that will try to hang God's people, the enemy that will try to hang you, will be hung by God because God has the back of His children.

God has your back. He does. And even when you make a bad decision that you feel you've hung your self, watch God come along and unravel that and work good out of it because it's just the type of God that He is. Let's trust Him. Let's believe that we can walk out God's will in a far different way than when we started this journey. Let's not get seized up and jammed up about it. Let's walk out of here in freedom. We know what to do. We know what to trust. We know that we can make decisions. And we know, ultimately – and it's the greatest thing of all – that God has our back.

Let's pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the wonderful people here at Grace. I pray, God, that if there's anybody here today that is living their life for You, but for some reason is feeling right now in their heart that maybe they've been living it for themselves but they want to live it now for You, I pray, Lord Jesus, that You would just kindly speak to their heart and let them know that that's what You specialize in; bringing people home.

And I pray, God, that they'd make that commitment. And if they do, Lord, I pray that they'd find a pastor or somebody with a name tag and let them know that they've made that decision. Lord, for the rest of the people that are in here that are on a journey with You that are followers of You, I pray, God, that You would liberate us and get us out, Lord, of the jamming nature, sometimes, of Your will, and let us realize, Lord, that it's a lot more free than maybe we have thought about.

So Lord, I pray that as we leave here today, You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us. And Lord, I pray for every one of the moms that are here. I pray, God, that they would go today and just have a fantastic day of feeling loved and cared for and honored, Lord. I just thank You for all the things that You're doing here at Grace Community Church. I just ask that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us to do the things that are pleasing to You for Your glory.

We love You, we praise You and we honor You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."

Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. Happy Mother's Day.

 

Blueprint Myth Week 3: Way of Wisdom

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

> Mommy told me that if I'm good and I read my Bible and say my prayers, God will help me discover my destiny. Like in the movies! Find my perfect princess, be a hero, save the world. But, what if I mess it up? What if I'm not brave enough?

> Will God take away my happy ending if I fail in my duties as a mother? What is God's will in my life anyway? I thought I did everything right. Why do I feel so overwhelmed all the time? I wish God would just set the table for me and all I had to do was sit at it. Maybe I just need to pray more, read my Bible and talk to my pastor.

> Talk to my pastor, they say. Connect and have more accountability. Serve more, they say. Well, I'm doing all of these things and I still feel so lost. I thought that as I got older I'd be able to discover what God's perfect plan was for my life. And yet, here we are in debt, struggling with lust. It seems like I'm just surviving. Where did I mess it up? Why won't God just speak to me like He does in the Bible and tell me the game plan? Sometimes I wonder: Is there really a plan that God wrote for my life that I'm supposed to follow?

> All these years and I still have to tiptoe to do the right thing. What about my free will? Maybe there is no rulebook. Maybe I can relax a little. Maybe His will and His call are too separate things. I don't know anymore. I just wish I could see my plan. I wish I could just see my blueprint.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the mobile app and the internet. We're in a four-week series called "Blueprint Myth." This is week number three. Many of you all know I like to sort of bring everybody back up to speed. Because, I'm under the impression that, at any given service, we probably have some visitors that have never been here. And the last thing you want to do is walk in and go, "It's week three of a four-week series. I'm going to be lost."

Let me put you at ease. I'll bring you back up to speed as to what we're doing so you'll be able to just walk right in here and be fine. I also, usually, am under the impression that there's a couple people that have probably missed a week or so just because of traveling and different things. So, I like to bring everybody up to speed.

Here's what we've been doing: I asked at the beginning of the series if you would take a journey with me to look at one of these issues that we Christians really struggle with if we're honest. It's a perennial issue in the church. It's an issue that has seized people up and just jammed people up and created confusion. It creates even more confusion because there's so many books written every year and so many sermons preached on this and they're all different and they tell people to do different things. It's this issue of God's will. What does God want me to do? Is God going to speak to me? Is He going to tell me? How do I know how to make good decisions?

All of these things sort of fall under the umbrella of God's will. What I've tried to do over the last few weeks is get us to look at this subject through a different lens. Typically, in Church, and it's sort of the folksy understanding that's passed down from generation to generation, is when we talk about God's will we need to talk about finding God's will. That we've got to somehow find it. That it's under a rock or you've got to pray a certain way or turn on the radio station and turn the knobs a couple of different ways and hope that the song comes out right or whatever it may be.

And I've said that I don't think that's the best biblical way to look at God's will. Because, nowhere in Scripture are we told to find God's will. And nowhere in Scripture are we told the steps that we would need to do if we were in fact to find God's will. What we're told in Scripture is to do God's will. That's a total different change than what we're normally associating with when we talk about this difficult subject. So, we've been talking about that. That we're moving towards doing God's will. Because, Scripture is pretty clear on about 95% of all the things you and I will struggle with. Scripture addresses, whether in general forms or specific forms. In fact, I would say that 100% of life's problems are dealt with at least in generalities in the Scriptures.

So, we've moved from finding to doing and we've also talked, during this series, about the difference here of God's will. Call it three buckets, if you will. There's the sovereign will of God. The sovereign will of God is that will where God knows what He's doing. It stands above time. It stands above history. It stands above choices. It's the things that God's going to accomplish no matter what. You and I are usually not privy to that. We just have to trust Him on some areas.

We've spent a lot of time, though, talking about the synergistic will of God. That's where God's revealed to you and me the things that He wants us to do. He's given us the ability and the equipment to be able to do those things. But, this is what most people, when they started coming here for the series, this is really where most of us were at: What do I do in the day-to-day decisions? What do I do for the right stuff and to make the right decisions? How do I know who to be with? How do I know what job to take? How do I know where to live? How do I know what to do with all of those things?

So, what we're going to do this weekend is we're going to, first of all, look at the Apostle Paul in a brief passage of Scripture and look at how practical he was. Then, the second part of what I'm going to do here is I'm going to give you some real, detailed steps to making great day-to-day decisions that still keep you in God's will. Then, next week, we're going to deal with this again. So, we're going to spend two real good weeks just making some good day-to-day decision. And my hope for you, and also for those who watch on the mobile app and the internet, is that these messages will be incredibly freeing to you. Because, a lot of times, we get jammed up with the stuff. And I really want you to walk out of here differently than when you came in.

Now, you don't have to raise your hand here. But, I know that many of you would. When you're reading a biblical book, oftentimes there are what I call "get me through" verse. Like, if you start off in Matthew and you're going, "I'm going to read the Bible. I'm going to read it all through."

You start off in Matthew and, all of a sudden, it's so and so begat so and so begat so and so begat so and so. And you're like, "Man, can I just get through this so I can get to chapter two?"

I'm not going to do a hand raise, but you know that exists in your life. So, unfortunately, on those "get me through" verses, sometimes we miss some really big nuggets. And, in Romans 1, there's what I call some "get me through" verses that most people blow through so that they can get to the meat of what's going on in Romans. We're going to look at a few of those verses and then we're going to sort of digest them a little bit and see how practical Paul is. And once we get that going and we get our minds in that way, we're going to talk about some steps that we can make to make some great decisions in life.

If you are a note taker, this is a great time to get out your pad and whatever and take some really good notes. If you're not a note taker, this is the time to learn to be one. Okay? So, there we go.

Romans 1:8-13. Paul says, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world."

He's writing to the church at Rome. He's never visited the church at Rome. There's not be an apostolic visit to the church at Rome. In fact, we sort of have to deduce reading Scripture and getting really close to some things in the Bible to figure out how this church started in Rome. On the day of Pentecost, Luke records all the people from different places that were there on the day of Pentecost that heard Peter's message and converted. And it says, "Some were from Rome."

So, those people went back, started a church and telling people about Jesus. Paul wants to go see them. He says, "Hey, listen. I've been hearing about all the stuff that's going on in the church there at Rome."

"God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about his Son, that I constantly mention you..."

In other words, "When I'm out preaching and doing my thing and being an apostle and talking to people about Jesus, I mention you guys. I talk about you guys. Because, I've heard what's going on in the church there at Rome."

"...always asking in my prayers..." – this is important here – "...that if it is somehow in God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you."

"I've wanted to come see you. I want to talk to you. I want to know you. And I pray all the time that God will somehow let it be in His will."

That's God's sovereign will. Paul has no idea if he's going to show up or not. He's just trusting God and he's hoping to go there. But, he's believing God. But, he's always praying, "Hey, God. If, somehow, You could make it happen so that I could go. I mean, I'm going to try to go there. I'm going to do some things. I've been trying to go there because I want to at last succeed in getting there, but I've not been able to so far."

And listen, folks, this is what he tells them. He says, "I want very much to see you. I mean, I talk about you. I know what's going on."

"I want to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."

I think that's awesome that the Apostle Paul, who could definitely go into a church and teach people about Jesus, says, "Hey, I want to make sure that we both share with each other."

In other words, Paul saw that he also needed the Roman Church. You know, we talk about communion and we talk about doing this thing together. Even Paul realized how important it was to be in relationship with other people. Then he says this:

"I don't want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, I often planned..." – this is huge because, I don't know about you all, but I grew up in a church that said Paul just walked around hearing God everywhere that he went and everything. And I was just like, "Man, it doesn't work for me that way."

Paul says, "No, no, no. I often planned to come to you."

In other words, "This is something I was planning on doing. I made plans to come but was prevented until now. I just haven't been able to get there. Life has just not allowed me to get there. That's why I'm always praying, 'Hey, God. If it's in Your will, because I don't know for sure in that sovereign will if I'm going to get there,' but I'm making plans and I'm praying about this thing in order that I might have a faithful ministry among you."

In other words, "I want to see you wall grow and I want to see other people come to Jesus just as I have had among the rest of the Gentiles."

Now, if we break this down – and this is huge, because we're just talking about practical daily living, let's just look at Paul for a moment. First of all, Paul was a planner. You know, I grew up in a tradition that just said, "You just trust God."

You know? Honestly, the preachers, oftentimes, you would ask them, "What are you going to preach on?"

"I don't know, brother. I'm just going to let God lead me."

You know? And you're going, "Really? Man, that is awesome. You're just going to..."

And then, when they preached, it sounded like they had trusted God to lead them and He didn't. You know? And you're going, "Okay, what are you trying to say here, dude?"

Well, Paul was a planner. He says, "I often plan to come to you."

Lean in here for a second. We're talking about day-to-day, practical stuff. We Christians need to be people that plan. I ask people all the time when they say, hey, you know, I'm trying to figure out who I'm going to marry, "Are you planning on being the spouse that you're supposed to be?"

"No, no, no. I'm watching bachelor hoping that somebody comes along that's good looking."

Okay. You can call that being led by the Spirit. I call that just being dumb. Okay? I mean, that's not being led by the Spirit. Paul was a planner. He planned. He thought about stuff. You know? Have you planned in your life how you're going to grow in the Lord? Have you planned in your life how you're going to get a better prayer life? Have you planned in your life how you're going to spend your finances? Most of us don't. We just sort of think that God's going to lead me.

Paul was a planner. Paul knew the way of wisdom. He knew the Old Testament. He knew the wisdom literature. The wisdom literature would say things like, "The inexperienced one believes anything. But, the sensible once watches his steps."

Let me break down what this means; what this actually means. This means that the person who is following God in the ways of wisdom is watching every step that they do. They're planning every step that they do so when somebody comes along and says something that sounds good, they're not going to be distracted; they're going to continue to do the things that are good. It's easy to get caught up and just believe in stuff. Paul says, "No, no, no, no. I'm a planner. I'm a planner because I know that's the way God wants me to live."

So, I'd ask you some questions here, when you're planning life, to make good decisions. How many know it's a lot better when you've decided to plan and you know where you're going to go and what you're going to do? When you have to make a decision, it's a far better decision than when you just make it on the spot. Right? So, first of all, you have to ask this question. Whatever it is that I'm planning – and I created this word – is it God's Wordable? What that means is is there anything in Scripture at all that would lead me to believe that this would be a good plan? And if so, am I being thoughtful about this? Have I really thought through the ramifications of all of these things?

You know, when I used to be a youth pastor a long time ago – and I was the world's worst youth pastor. You know? I realized that 16 year old kids didn't care about Greek and I did and that didn't work for them. So, it was like, "I need to go on and do something else."

But, anyway, as a youth pastor, I would always tell them, "Hey, don't put yourself into a situation where you haven't thought about the consequences down the road. Don't make decisions that you haven't thought about, 'Where's this going to be in five minutes, ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour from now, five years from now.'"

So, have you thought through your plans? Have you done your due diligence? Are you just trying to take or are we trying to take the easiest path? Let me break this down in a way that really matters for you and me: A lot of people decide in life, "What job should I take or where should I move?"

Okay? That's something that we struggle with. Here's the deal though: More often than not, when they take the job or when they move to where they're going to move, they're making those decisions based on which one has the best money to it or the best hours to it or what's the place that I would like to live? Can I tell you the decision I never hear anybody make when they talk about taking a job or moving somewhere? I never hear somebody go, "I want to make sure that I've thought through this and done my due diligence to find the churches that are in that area so that I know there's a good one there that I can be equipped in my spiritual life."

See, we're not walking in the way of wisdom and we make choices. But, the choices aren't necessarily always the good one. Paul was a planner. Not only that, Paul prayed about the things he planned. He planned and he prayed and he prayed and he planned. He said, "I'm always asking in my prayers that if it's somehow in God's will, I may come to you."

And I think that, when I break this down when we're planning life and we're thinking about where we're going and what we're going to do and how these things are going to work in relationships that we have and finances and all of the things that we're doing, trying to go, "How do I live God's will?" I think the question we need to ask is, "Am I including God in my life or do I have..." – and, you know, I'm a pastor. So, I talk to a lot of people and I talk to people about the things in their life that matter and the things that they want to know, "Hey, what's God want for me?"

This is something I find very often in culture today. I find good people that love God that really want to come to church and really want to grow, but they've got their God compartment and then they've got their work compartment or job compartment or life compartments and it's like God's here, but He's not really involved here. Because, if He was involved here, "It might get a little weird, you know? Or I might have to do some things that might cost me or whatever. So, I'm going to keep God out of this part of my life so I can keep that sanitized and then I can do the God thing over here."

I think what Paul is saying is, "Hey, we need to make sure that we're including God in our lives in every area of the things that we do. Not only did Paul plan and pray about that, but he submitted himself to God's sovereign will."

He said this. He goes, "That if it is somehow in God's will."

In other words, "I've made great plans. I've thought about them. I've prayed about them. But, I'm laying them at the feet of God."

Because, even my best laid plans might not be exactly what God wants from my life, which is why we have to walk by faith and no by sight through a lot of the things of life. People always say, "What's the opposite of faith? Isn't it doubt?"

No. I think the opposite of faith is sight. "I want to see something. I want to see God. I want to see God rather than trusting God."

Not only that, but Paul's plans were based on spiritual goals. He didn't say, "Man, I want to come to Rome because I hear there's some great restaurants, man. I can do some Jesus stuff on the side and have some great dinner. It'll be an awesome trip, man. That sounds fantastic. Hey, aren't there some amphitheaters in Rome? I can catch a show and then I can preach a message and all of that."

No, no. All of his plans were spiritual in nature. He wanted to come to provide spiritual ministry to them. He wanted to establish and encourage them. He wanted to receive encouragement from them. And he wanted to win unbelievers to Christ. He wanted to have a fruitful ministry. It's like, "Wow. That's a pretty practical Paul."

You know? Those are those "get through" verses that you just don't pay attention to when you're reading Romans. You're like just trying to get to verse 16 for "the Gospel's the power of God unto salvation" so you can move on. The end of the book is like, "Yeah, this is awesome."

But, there's stuff there that we need to read about Paul that we just often missed. In fact, we miss a lot of things about Jesus. Do you know, in the Gospels, we have about two to three months of Jesus' life? That's it. Two to three months. And we had a ministry going on for about three and a half years. What happened in the other times? Well, that's where He's walking along the road. That's where He's just eating food or where He's just hanging out. So, you read the Gospels and you're like, "Man, everywhere Jesus went He's healing everybody and doing stuff."

And then we start believing that everywhere we're supposed to be going we should be healing people and doing stuff. No, those are the highlights. Those are the highlights. There's a normal life. Paul had a normal life. The Bible's not weird. We don't have to hang from chandeliers. We can be practical with this thing. Can you imagine if the church was just practical and we just talked about Jesus in practical ways? That'd be awesome for the world. I mean, we do crazy stuff. Right? I was thinking today as we were singing this – and there's nothing wrong with it. But, I was thinking that if there's somebody in here new and we're going, "Man, you need to be covered in the blood," they're like, "Are you all a cult or something? Whoa. What is that?"

But, the reality is sometimes we get into our own Christianese and our own stuff. We don't need to be weird. Paul wasn't weird. He planned. So, here's what we're going to do. Get out whatever you're taking notes on and these are normally what I would call "take-homes," but this is just making good day-to-day decisions. This is rubber meets the road Christianity. This is as real and raw as it gets.

When you are confronted with a decision to make, the first thing you have to ask is, "Is this God's will or God's call?"

This is so important that we get. Please listen to me. God's call in Scripture is never mistaken. Like when Moses is called to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt, God makes sure he knows that that's his call. When Paul is called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, he is blinded by a light. Trust me. If God has called you to do something, you won't have to worry about whether or not He's spoken to you. He will make it very, very, very clear.

Unfortunately, we read God's call and then we expect God to do the same thing for us in the day-to-day decision when we're just sort of choosing day-to-day stuff. That's not the way it works. God's call is very specific. And a lot of the Bible is all about God's call in different lives to show you how God's moving. Don't misinterpret what you're reading when you're reading those things. That's God's call.

Then there's God's will. Of course, God's call is under God's will ultimately. But, God's will is, "What do we do?"

So, there's three things that we've got to talk about. These are the wills. You know, they talk about, "Does God will that people be saved," and all that stuff. Those are things that we're not talking about in this particular series. We're talking about things that affect our lives and the way we relay to Him and can we make good day-to-day decisions.

First of all, there's going to be a sovereign will that you're not going to know. There's going to be a synergistic will that you don't even have to argue about. How to treat your wife. How to do your kids. How to do your finances. How to forgive somebody. All that stuff. All that's in there. You don't even have to think about it. God's already given you that. But, the day-to-day stuff, just the stuff that's the day-to-day grind that you and I have in our lives, we're going to have to make some decisions.

Here's the way we do it. So, we're going to say, "I want to make a great decision. I want to be in God's will in the practical, day-to-day stuff."

The first place we're going to start is the same place that we would start even in God's synergistic will. We're going to start in Scripture. Is there anything at all in Scripture that I can find to help support what is going on? David says, "I've treasured Your Word in my heart so that I might not sin against you."

I'm going to give you the 2017, Chip Bennett version: "God, I've really read the Bible so many times so I don't make dumb decisions."

Okay? So, here's the question I ask you: How does God's Word address this issue? Listen to me. We're sneaky people. We'll find ways to read the Bible to support the decision that we want to make. I don't get "amens" on that one, huh? It's true though. I had somebody one time go, "I'm going to go to Colorado and I'm going to get into pot sales up there in Colorado."

And I'm like, "Really? You're a Christian, right?"

"Yeah. Uh huh. I'm going to do it."

"Well, how do you figure that?"

"Well, in Genesis 1 it says that God created every plant of the field."

And I'm going, "Seriously, dude? Are you crazy?"

Because, here's the thing: How does God's Word address this issue? But, am I willing to submit my interpretation to the body? Uh oh. Uh oh. It's like that finger, "Oh, that's what God told me to do."

No, no. Why don't you sometimes bounce that off some people that you know are maybe a little bit more godly or in character or maybe know Scripture a little bit better. We don't like to do that, do we? We like Frank Sinatra. Man, I'm going to do it my own way. You know? We don't like to do that. But, if we're going to go to God's Word, then we need to ask, in principle or in general speaking, is there something that God says and am I willing to submit this to somebody and ask them before I make a decision? That's step number one.

Step number two is to pray about it. It's to pray, "God, will You lead me? Will You guide me?"

I want to show you how prayer works in the normal, day-to-day activity of a church. The epistles in the New Testament – those are not the wives of the apostles, okay? They're the epistles. Just making sure. Just making sure everybody's here. So, the epistles are what we call "occasional letters." What we mean by "occasional letters" is they were written for a particular occasion. So, when you're reading those epistles, they were not written to you. They were written for an occasion at a church at a time and a place. Before we can really start asking, "What do they mean to me," we have to understand what they meant to the original hearers.

The Epistle to the Philippians, Paul starts off to the Philippians, because he's heard news about the church that he needs to write to them and he's trying to correct some things that are going on in the church. Epaphroditus has come and visited him. So, he sends the Epistle of Philippians back to the Philippian church. He starts off with greeting everybody, the overseers and the deacons. He says, you know, "Grace to you and peace," and all the stuff that Paul does.

And in Philippians 1:6, he says, "I'm convinced that God's going to continue to do the thing that He started in you. God's got a better hold on you than you do on Him. I'm convinced God's going to get this thing going. But, I want you to understand something. I'm in prison right now. I'm suffering for the Gospel, which all of us will at some point because that's just the way it is. It's not about me. It's about Him. And I'm in prison. But, here's the cool thing: God's really working in my imprisonment. Even though I'm in chains, God's Word's not in chains. The Gospel's going out and even the imperial guard is hearing about this message of Jesus and there's people here in Rome where I'm at that are preaching Jesus and they don't like me. Then there's people that are preaching Jesus and they do like me. I don't really care about me. I just care that Jesus is preached. I'm happy that they're talking about Jesus because it's really not about me. Because, if it was really about me, guys, I'd rather just die and go on and be with Jesus because I know that's far better. But, I know how God works. God's more concerned about His people. So, I'm probably going to live and I'll be able to pour that into you."

The deal is, when we're in this bad situation or imprisonment, we need to shine really bright. Because, when people can see that even in the bad situations we're living for God and God's first, it really shows them all about what the Gospel's doing in our lives. So, therefore, in Philippians 2:1, he gives four ifs. He says, "If this, if this, if this."

"If there's any consolation of love. If there's anything, encouragement in the Spirit or any of that stuff, here's what I want you to do: Don't put yourself first. Put others before you."

Because, Philippians 2:5, "I want you to have the same mind, the same attitude that Jesus had, who, even though he existed in the form of God, he didn't exploit that. He didn't grab onto it. He humbled Himself and He became a man and He died for you and me. So, that's the lifestyle we're supposed to live, guys, The Philippian church, this is the way we're supposed to live. Like me. I'm ready to pour myself out as a drink offering. And Timothy, he's the only preacher I've got that'll put you guys first. And Epaphroditus, this dude was about to die for you guys being sick and he was more worried that you had heard he was sick than he was about being sick."

These people really were putting God first. That's the way we should live. This is what we should do. In fact, in Philippians 3, "All these great things that I had that I thought were so good, I was a Pharisee and I was of the Tribe of Benjamin and I had all of this stuff. I put all of that for loss, everything, so that I could win Jesus so I could be a follower of Jesus."

This is the lifestyle that we live because, Philippians 4:2, "There's two chicks in your church, Euodia and Syntyche, and I know about them."

Please do me a favor. Don't name your kid Euodia or Syntyche. Just don't do that. You know? You can always tell those who really know biblical names, you know? Because, they're like, "Our kid's named after the Bible."

"Really? Great. What's his name?"

"His name's Judas."

And you're like, "Oh, okay. Yeah."

You know what I'm talking about? Or his name's Goliath. You're like, "Okay, yeah. That's great."

But anyway, use some common sense.

"I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord."

In other words, there's a problem. They're not getting along. They need to get along. And, look, he says, "And I ask you, true partner..." – probably Epaphroditus that took the letter – "...to help these women. These are good women. They love God. They've contended for the Gospel at my side. They've preached and taught with me along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the book of life. I know these women. They're good women. But, there's an issue going on. We need to get along. We need to be like Jesus. We need to put other people first."

Listen, "Rejoice in God. Rejoice in God, girls and church. Rejoice. I say it again, rejoice. Be gracious. Let everybody know your graciousness; not that we fight."

Because, when we fight inside, the world goes, "They aren't any different than us."

Don't act like that. And then he says, "Listen, because the Lord is near. He's there in your midst and He's coming back one day. Get along. Be the right thing. Don't worry about anything. Stop it, girls. But, in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God."

Do you ever notice when you start praying about stuff and you're like, "Okay, I don't know if I'm supposed to love this person or not," and you start going, "God, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to love this person? Alright, God. I know I'm supposed to love this person."

Your prayers start convincing you. You know what I'm talking about? You don't even get an answer from God. You're just listening to yourself speak and you're going, "Yeah, this shouldn't be coming out of my mouth. This is not good."

And the good thing is God doesn't mind that stuff coming out of our mouth. You read some of those Psalms and they'll be like, "Go get 'em, God. Strike 'em down."

That's not what they're supposed to be doing, but at least they're praying. God wants to hear what you have to say. Speak it out. You'll start figuring out, "Man, hold on. This ain't working."

And then he says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

The word "your" here is plural. It's a church. He's saying, "Listen, get along, rejoice in God."

Have you ever found if you're having a bad day or whatever and you start rejoicing in God, things change? You start praying and things change. And all of a sudden now, if we can get Euodia and Syntyche to agree to act like Jesus and count all things as loss and not fight about what they think is most important to them, if we can do that and we can take this to God and we can pray about it, what we can do is we can start having God's shalom in the church again at the Philippian church once again. See how that works? And we like to take all these verses – don't we, honestly? We just yank them, pull them, stretch them and do all this stuff. They're written for an occasional thing.

Prayer. Tell God your heart when you pray. Whatever it is. "God, I'm mad. I'm frustrated."

Tell Him whatever your heart is. Tell Him your plans. "God, this is the plan that I've got. I'm going to go beat them over the head."

You know? And then you start going, "I can't do that. I can't do that. I can't do that. Okay?"

And tell God your ideas. "I've got a good idea of how to get them back."

He's going to go, "Oh, no. Chill out."

But then, at the end of the day, say, "Your will be done. God, Your will be done."

So, we're going to go to Scripture and we're going to go to prayer. Then we're going to go and get some godly counsel. We don't like to do that, do we? We like to do our own thing. "Don't get too close. I don't want to get too many people in my life."

Here's what the Bible says though: "A fool's way is right in his own eyes. Don't be a fool. But, whoever listen to counsel is wise."

Let me ask you a question: Who do you have in your life that you listen to? Who do I have in my life that I listen to? Here's the next big important thing: Are they God-first people? Because, a lot of people listen to people that have nothing to do with God and are not going to tell you anything biblical or tell you anything to be right and you're going to listen to them and you're going to make a lot of bad decisions because they're not God-first people.

Now, here's the gulp. Here's the big gulp, okay? And that's not a shameless plug for 7-11. Here's the big gulp here: What am I going to do when they disagree with me, the good, godly people? Am I willing to be humble enough to realize that the body confirms the call and even if I think something that I need to do is so important, if I've got godly people in my life and they're all saying it's a bad decision, am I willing to put that decision on the shelf and trust God? See, if we lived our lives like this, we would make a lot less bad decisions. We'd really start seeing how effective God's will is for our life if we just did the things He asked us to do.

Then we process all of these things and we make a decision. If you've done all these things, you make a decision. And you've got to trust God. Because, here's the situation: When you and I make a decision and we've done all the things that God's asked us to do, we've done all the things that we know how to do and we make a decision, some of it's going to be uncertain. Because, we really don't know God's sovereign will. But, what we do know is that no matter what the outcome is, we know that God is working all things for good for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That should give us rest in Him.

This is just basic. I know this is not like hanging from the chandeliers preaching. But, this is just rubber meets the road. This is just honest, good, biblical teaching. What we're going to do is everybody's going to have this tendency to want to go, "Oh, that's too easy. That's too simple. It requires too much of me to submit and pray and all that stuff. I just want to make some decisions. Could God just come down and tell me what to do?"

It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. It may, every once in a while. But, it's not going to happen very often. The normal way is going to be just the way of wisdom and choosing the right things and doing what God has called us to do. And I'm telling you right now, if we would just employ these decisions in our lives and do the things that God's asked us to do, you'd be surprised how many great decisions you would make and how many great things you would see God do in your life by just honoring His Word and walking in the way of wisdom.

Let's pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for everybody here. I thank You for this church. Lord, my prayer is what Paul prayed for the Galatians in Galatians 4:19. Lord, he said, "I travail in birth again that Christ would be formed in them."

Lord, I pray, as the pastor of this church, Lord, that You would form Christ in all of us. Lord, that we would not get jammed up and seized up on this stuff. That we would see that You really have made it more clear than we like it. The problem is us. That's why the Psalmist said, "Lord, teach me to do Your will."

The problem wasn't in the finding; the problem was in the doing. Lord, so often we want to run against this because it's just so easy. But, it requires a big submission to You. It requires us to really lay down our lives to You. And Lord, what we would love to do is to circumvent all of this stuff and just have You speak to us to tell us what's next. But then, we never grow in character, we never developed Christ's likeness, we never have any of those things go on in our lives. So, Lord, work on our hearts. Minister to our hearts. Strengthen our hearts, Lord, to walk in the way of wisdom.

So Lord, as we leave here today, I pray that You would watch over us and protect us, lead and guide us and bring us back safely to when we meet again for Your glory. I pray, God, that this week and next week, as we process how to live out Your will, that You would continue to speak to us and encourage us and move us, Lord, to be able to trust You in the things that You've asked us to do and to really believe, with all of our hearts, that if we do the things You've asked us to do, Lord, that life will be better that way than it would be the other way.

So Lord, we thank You for everything. We love You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen." God bless everybody. Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him.

 

Blueprint Myth Week 2: Revelation Commitment

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

> Mommy told me that if I'm good and I read my Bible and say my prayers, God will help me discover my destiny. Like in the movies! Find my perfect princess, be a hero, save the world. But, what if I mess it up? What if I'm not brave enough?

> Will God take away my happy ending if I fail in my duties as a mother? What is God's will in my life anyway? I thought I did everything right. Why do I feel so overwhelmed all the time? I wish God would just set the table for me and all I had to do was sit at it. Maybe I just need to pray more, read my Bible and talk to my pastor.

> Talk to my pastor, they say. Connect and have more accountability. Serve more, they say. Well, I'm doing all of these things and I still feel so lost. I thought that as I got older I'd be able to discover what God's perfect plan was for my life. And yet, here we are in debt, struggling with lust. It seems like I'm just surviving. Where did I mess it up? Why won't God just speak to me like He does in the Bible and tell me the game plan? Sometimes I wonder: Is there really a plan that God wrote for my life that I'm supposed to follow?

> All these years and I still have to tiptoe to do the right thing. What about my free will? Maybe there is no rulebook. Maybe I can relax a little. Maybe His will and His call are too separate things. I don't know anymore. I just wish I could see my plan. I wish I could just see my blueprint.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody and also good morning to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. Can we give them all a big hand clap? There's a lot of people that watch. We want you to feel like you're a part of what's going on here as well.

We are in a four-week series called "Blueprint Myth." For those of you all who are regular attenders, you know that I try to do this at the beginning of every message when we're in the middle of a series. I try to bring everybody back up to speed, because I know in every service we've got visitors and we've got people that missed the week before. So, I just think it's appropriate that we sort of all get back onto the same page.

What we're doing in this particular series – and it's what I asked everybody to do last week – is we're taking a journey. I asked you to take a journey with me. The beautiful thing about Grace Community Church is this: When I ask you to take a journey with me, whatever God speaks to you and however God ministers to you, let Him do that. You don't always have to see it the way I see it. You don't always have to believe it the way I believe it. You know, ultimately, all of us are called to get into the Scriptures for ourselves and to figure out what God wants. But, as your pastor, when I do these series', I really, sincerely try to do things that I feel will help you out.

So, I asked you to take a journey with me on an issue that is a perennial issue in the church. In fact, it's something that's jammed people up often. It's seized them up. It's frozen them up. It's brought confusion. And it doesn't help that there's hundreds of books every year that are written on this subject. Most of them don't agree. It doesn't help that there's thousands of sermons preached every year. It doesn't help that many of them don't agree. There's just the inherent issues within the church on this particular issue. We're taking a journey looking at God's will.

I did it for two reasons. One, I knew coming out of Easter there were people that had made a decision to accept Christ and move forward in their relationship with God. And I knew the next series dealing with what God's will is for our life would be huge for them. But, I also knew, as a pastor, that this is a really important issue. I can't tell you how many times I've seen so many people just froze up and jammed up with this particular issue.

What I believe with all of my heart is this: I believe when we get in an area of our lives where we get jammed up and we get froze up and we're struggling, somewhere along the way I feel like we might have not seen exactly what God is speaking to us. Because, I believe when we go to God's Word and we read it in the way it's supposed to be read, I believe God brings freedom to our lives. He's not trying to bring bondage to our lives. I believe He brings joy and all those things and the abundant life. He's not trying to get us to be all jammed up.

So, that's why I asked everybody to take a journey with me. Because, I think that as we go through this series, we're going to figure out ways that God's will is not as difficult as we thought that it was and it will free us up to become all that God has created you and me to be. And the reason we called this the "Blueprint Myth" is because I'm convinced – and I've had hundreds and thousands of conversations with people about this – it seems to be that the majority of people believe that God sort of has this blueprint somewhere up in heaven for our lives. And if we could just find that blueprint and follow it along, everything would be great. I just think there's some inherent problems with that view. The biggest one is if you've ever seen those movies where somebody goes back in time and they make one decision differently than they did when they were there before, they get back to the future and everything's different based on that one decision.

And it would be terrible, wouldn't it, if God had this blueprint and you made a mistake and it forever skewed the rest of your life missing God's will? I just don't believe that that is what He is all about. So, let me summarize here what we talked about last week to bring everybody back up to speed.

We had this real big moment last week. In fact, many of you all put on Facebook and I got several messages to me personally, that this was a mind-blowing concept for many people. Moving from looking at God's will through the lens of finding and moving to God's will through the lens of doing. The Scriptures don't really tell us to find God's will. They don't give us a little pattern on how to find God's will. Scripture talks about doing God's will. That we're to live this thing out and to be what God has called us to be.

And I mentioned that there were some inherent issues with this idea of finding God's will. It made God sort of a sneaky God and you had to look under a stone or do what a lot of people do. We all know somebody who's done it. It probably wasn't us, but we know somebody who's done it, right? They got in the car and said, "Okay, God. I'm going to turn on The Joy FM. A Christian station. Whatever song is on, that's what you're going to speak to me today."

You know? You hit it and it ends up being on the country station and you're like, "Who got in my car?"

You know? Or you get that ball of paper and you're like, "Okay, God. She's really pretty and I know she's the one. So, when I shoot this and it goes in, I'm going to know."

You shoot and it goes off on the floor. You're like, "Okay, God. Let's take another shot here."

You know? We don't want to live our lives that way with this sort of sneaky God trying to figure out what's going on. And there are just some inherent issues with finding God's will. And I don't know about you, but if you were going to be honest – and I think we like to be honest here and people on the mobile app and internet like to be honest – isn't it easier to find problems in other people's lives rather than ours? Right? Amen. Come on. It's the truth, isn't it? There's a Greek word for that. "Any-body-but-me."

I told you I try to give you all the best teaching I could give you here. But, there are some inherent issues with this idea of finding God's will. One of the things we need to look at is when we talk about finding God's will, we spend inordinate energy on personal and cultural pursuits. Lean in here and listen to this, because I think this is huge. If you're brand new here and you just came in here and you're trying to figure out what God's doing and all this stuff, I have some stuff to say to you. But, I'm really saying this, at this particular moment, to those that have been a Christian for a little while or at least had been in church for a little while.

Isn't it interesting when you look at Ephesians 3 and you see the way Paul prays or the prayer he prays for the Colossians in Colossians 1 or the prayer he prays for the Thessalonians or the prayer that Jesus prays in John 17, isn't it so interesting that they don't pray anything like we do? They're praying to understand the knowledge of God's will. They're praying to understand the depth and the height and width of the love that God has for you. Praying that you'll love the brothers and reach out and share the Gospel. That's like big prayers, you know?

And we're praying, "God, could You meet my mortgage? I need this car. I need this job."

And I don't want anybody to think that those aren't important. But, what I want us to see is oftentimes when we're trying to find God's will, we're spending it on things that are not as important as sharing our faith and loving our neighbors and doing the things that God has called us to do. So, there's sort of an inherent issue with finding God's will. We also are preoccupied with the future. You know? We start thinking about trying to find God's will. What's next? What does God have next for me? What job? What date? Whatever. It just messes us all up.

The church is filled with anxiety. You know what anxiety is, right? You may want to right this down. This is good stuff. Anxiety is trying to live the future today. That's good. I mean, I could stop right now and we can go get baptized. You know? But, we get preoccupied with the future. And when we're preoccupied with the future, guess what we're not doing? We're not living now. We also, when trying to find God's will, dodge personal responsibility. I know nobody's ever done this, but you can see it in other people where you're going, "I need to get a job," and you tell your friends you need to get a job and they say, "Okay. Well, dude, it's been four weeks and you've not done anything."

"Yeah, I'm praying about it and trying to find what God wants me to do."

It's like, "I'm going to tell you right now. What God wants you to do is to get out of your house and go get a job."

You know? So, we can dodge personal responsibility. So, that's why we're trying to take this journey of moving from finding God's will, which I think is not the best way to look at this, into doing God's will. So, that was the big "wow" moment last week.

Well, the big "wow" moment this week is going to be this. This is where it's going to get real and raw on everybody. So, get ready. I love you, but sometimes we've got to get real and raw here with this stuff. Here's the deal: If we're going to do God's will – if we go, "Okay, I get it. There's some inherent problems with finding. I get that part. I see what you're talking about with the doing thing. I get all that stuff."

Here's the thing: You cannot do God's will unless you know God's will. You just can't do it if you don't know it. And here's where it gets real. And it gets really real. Now, I want you to lean in here. There are two questions that we have to answer in life. And I know you've got all kinds of questions that you have. But, there's two major questions that you and I have to answer in life. The first one is: Who is Jesus? That's the most important question you will ever answer in your life. If you're new here today and you've come in here and you're like, "You know, I'm not quite sure. I thought about going to church. I haven't been to church in a long time. I saw you guys out at First Friday or you sent me this big poster in the mail or whatever it was and we decided to show up. I used to go to church."

Whatever it may be, the most important question is who is Jesus? Because, eternity is settled on that question. At let me just say here: If you're new, let me personally apologize to you for something. As pastors and churches, oftentimes we got off the main issue and we told you how to dress and what music to listen to and you couldn't go to this movie or how you should view this issue or how you should vote or whatever things that we get caught up on rather than the central issue, which is who is Jesus. So, if you feel sometimes that people are like, "I don't even know what the church is all about," let me say in advance, sorry for that. We sometimes get off track. We are humans. We do make mistakes. We are not perfect.

But, the most important question you and I can ask is who is Jesus. The correct answer is that He was God in the flesh. He's the Messiah. He died on a cross and He rose again on the third day. One day, He's going to come back. That is the most important question. If you're here today and you really haven't answered that question, we want to help you answer that question if you would like. We'd be happy to do that.

But, if you have answered that question and you've gone, "I'm in. I'm in for the Jesus thing," then the next question you and I have to ask – and it is the most important question for someone who's said "I want to follow Jesus."

Here it is. The question is this: Has God spoken to you and me? The reason I say that is because if you say, "I want to follow Jesus," well what are you going to do? What does following Jesus look like? If God has not spoken to us, if He's not told us things that He would like for us to do or the way He would like for us to live our lives, then we don't know. And here's the deal: If you look at this particular book and you say, "You know, I'm not sure if God's really spoke. I mean, I believe in Jesus. I believe that. But, I'm not quite sure. I go back here and there's some stuff here that doesn't seem right. You know, like Leviticus pots and pans and all that. I'm like, 'What is that?' You know? Some of the stuff here in Revelation. I mean, I didn't know they had drugs that good back then. I mean, I'm not quite sure what's going on."

And you have sort of a "I don't know if God's spoken."

What happens is God's will for our life then becomes like the front row of a Gallagher concert. Have you ever been to Gallagher? He's the guy that hits stuff and it's splattering everywhere. You're going, "Okay. I've got to figure out what's going on. I'm not sure. I don't know that God said anything. I'm not sure what that book says. So, what do I do?"

And then we start doing tap dances and praying and, "God, if it rains," and we just never know what to do because we don't know what God has said for us to do. Well, here's the big mind-blower: If you believe that God has spoken to you and me – and I do. I have a very high view of Scripture. If you believe that – here's the mind-blower. Get ready, because this is a real big adjustment for most of us. That means about 95% of God's will is the same for each and every one of us. See? This is a big deal here.

"Well, how do I love my wife? I want to love my wife differently."

No. Well, God said how to love your wife.

"Well, yeah. But, you know, I'm not quite sure about what I should do with strangers."

Well, God's told you how to respond to strangers.

"Well, yeah. But, I'm not sure how God wants me to raise my kids."

Well, He's told you how to raise your kids.

"Yeah, but I'm not quite sure, you know, when somebody does me wrong, what I should do."

Well...

"But, what about if they're in the church?"

Yeah. He's addressed that.

"Well, what about my finances? I don't want anybody to get ahold of that."

He's told you that too. You know, I don't like that idea at all. So, it's okay. Most of us don't like a lot of things that are in here.

"What do I do if somebody slaps me?"

Okay, well He's told me what to do.

"What do I do with enemies? Well, I don't want to do that."

That's fine. But, that's what He said. Isn't it funny how it's like, "Love enemies."

Could it be any clearer? And we'll sit around and argue about the book of Revelation and about how clear that is and it's like "love enemies." That's pretty easy. But, the deal is if God has spoken to you and me, then almost everything that we need to know, He's told us. And that becomes a real issue for us. Do we believe that? Because, I told you the first question, the most important one which everything hinges on is who is Jesus? The next question has to be, "Has God spoken?" Because, if God's spoken, then we sort of know what we're supposed to be doing. And see, God's will, then, is not about finding it, it really is about doing it.

But, let me show you how this works in life. All of us, no matter what endeavor that we decide to do – if we say, "I really want to follow God. I want to do what God's called me to do," or if it's, "I want to take a job or I want to do this thing or I want to do that thing," whatever it is, there's three questions that we ask. Now, we don't think about the questions when we're doing it, but they are questions that we ask. So, if you're going to undertake something, you're going to take a new job or you're going to go to a school or you're going to follow God or whatever it is, the first thing is you've got to go, "Can I learn it?"

Because, if you can't learn it, whatever it is that you're trying to undertake, it's not going to work. I mean, you know, I don't know about you, but I didn't do a very good job in math growing up. I just didn't like math. Part of it is because I like to get things done. I'm really driven to get things done and I just didn't want to take the time to work out those problems. I always got in trouble because I had the answer but I didn't do the work and they were mad at me. And I'm like, "I got the answer, baby. The answer's right."

They're like, "Yeah, but we're concerned about the work."

I'm like, "I ain't concerned about the work. I'm concerned about the answer."

Out there in the real world, they don't care about the formulas. All they care about is did you get the numbers right. So, anyway, I was not the math teacher's pet.

Anyway. Can I learn it? The next question is: Can I do it? Because, here's the deal: If you can learn it but you cannot do it, there's a problem. You see what I'm talking about? Like, I can learn or you can teach me how to slam a basketball, but I can't do it on a 10-foot goal. I mean, maybe with a ladder or something. My kid's goals I can. They're this tall. I'm like Shaq on those. You know? Like, "Dad, man. NBA pro."

I'm like, "I know. Let me tell you. I got robbed. I should've been in the NBA."

But, you know, can I learn it? Can I do it? And then, the other thing that we ask and we do is we ask this: Well, what's the payoff? So, if I can learn it, that's great. If I can do it, okay. That's good. Well then, what's the payoff if I, in fact, do it? So, what I want to do is I want to talk to you for the next few minutes about undertaking God's Word. Trying to accomplish the things God's asked us to do in our lives through these questions. 

Because, I think these questions are huge and I think that if we can answer these questions, then we'll be ready to move on to what I'm going to do the next two weeks with everybody. We're going to talk about just the day to day decisions that sort of beat us up and grind us up. We're going to look at that. It's going to be so much fun over the next two weeks looking at how to make good, godly decisions day to day so that we don't get all jammed up and bound up in this situation.

But, before we can do that, we've got to make the decision as to whether or not we believe God has spoken to us. And to do that and say, "Am I going to undertake that," can I learn it? Is it possible for me to learn what God's told me to do? Can I do it? Because, that's a real question. And, what's the payoff? So, here we go. Let's look at this.

Can I learn it? Look up here. This is good. You can write this down. You can do whatever you want to do. But, make sure that you focus in up here. This is out of 2 Timothy 3. Paul says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God."

Now, you don't have to agree with Paul. Nobody's going to make you have to agree in here. That's a decision you have to make. But, Paul's very clear that he's convinced that Scripture is not just inspired, which a lot of translations use. He uses a compound word. Breathed out by God. He's convinced that Scripture is not like reading any other book. It is different. It's breathed out by God. And listen to what he says here: "It's profitable for teaching."

So, when you say, "Well, why would I read God's Word?" 

It's profitable for teaching, it's for reproof. We usually don't like that when we read God's Word. For correction and for training in righteousness. Now, look at this: It's profitable for teaching which means we can learn which means that He can teach us the things that we need to do. It's profitable for reproof. I don't know if you've ever done this, but I have. I suspect you have. Where you open up the Bible and you start reading and you go, "Ooo. Yeah. That's a tough one right there. Consider it all joy when I have garbage going on in my life? Eh, I don't like that."

So, that's the reproof part here. Sometimes it says things to us that we struggle with. And oftentimes – I'm sure you've never done this. Just put it on me. You look at it and you go, "Oh, God. That's not the way the world works here."

Exactly. God didn't ask you to work the way the world works. He asked you and me to be citizens of heaven; kingdom citizens. What do kingdom citizens do? They don't look like the world. So, oftentimes, what we do is we find a Scripture and we go, "That's not the way the world works," and then we reinterpret that bad boy so it fits more comfortably with our life. When, in reality, Scripture's there to give us reproof. And it gives us correction and it trains us in righteousness. It trains us in righteousness. Look at what it says here. "That the man of God may be complete."

God wants you to get into His Word so that you can be complete. Listen: Equipped for every good work. I always love Paul. There's nobody in all of Scripture that is more pro-God's love and grace towards people. He's overwhelmingly. In fact, Paul was such a preacher of grace that people misunderstood him. In Romans 6, he has to say, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid."

In other words, what they heard Paul saying was that grace is so big and grace is so awesome that we just keep doing whatever we want to do. Paul had to correct that. But, he obviously preached grace so much that it got misinterpreted at times. But, Paul always, when he talks about grace – all you've got to do is look around – he'll talk about after you get the whole grace thing that God wants you to be doing good works. And that's a struggle for so many people because we don't like the both/and. We like the either/or in life. You know? We like, "Is Jesus God or is He man? Which one is He?"

He's both.

"Well, Scripture was written by people. Is it God's Word?"

It's both.

"God's sovereign and we're free."

It's both. But, what we do is if you look at all the theological problems in America, everybody goes to one side or the other and can't live in the happy medium where both are true at the same time where it requires faith to believe that rather than just rationalism. So, what happens here is he says, "Listen, this is what Scripture can do for you. It can equip you."

In other words, it can give you everything that you need, spending time in this, to do the things that God has called you to do. So, can I learn it? Yeah. Paul says yeah. This is what Scripture does. Scripture will teach you, reprove you, correct you, train you and give you things that you need. You can learn this stuff. Everybody can learn it. Now, that's important. You may say, "Well, I don't know if I can learn it."

Can I tell you something? You could not live, all of us could not live in a better time to understand what God's Word says than right now. There's so many written journals, internet sites, videos, YouTubes. You could type in and watch the greatest professors in the world on YouTube teach you about the Bible. You can learn it. So, that's a question I think we can do.

The next question is "can I do it?" That's a big question. Because, when you start talking about "can I do it," people go, "Well, you know how sometimes I read this and I'm not quite sure. I don't really feel like doing this. A lot of times I go, 'Eh, I'm not doing it.'"

Okay. "I'm not doing it" is not the same as "I can't do it." That's an "I don't want to do it." So, here's what I'm going to do. Put aside whatever thought process you've got and let's just look at a biblical passage. Because, what I find – and it's always tough. It's just so tough when we read the Bible. Sometimes the Bible just messes up everything we believe. I can tell you, as someone who spent a lot of time in school studying the Bible and who teaches, I've changed my mind so many times. I don't even remember how many times I've changed my mind. Because, when I go to Scripture, I just can't get God in the box that I want Him to be in.

Can I get an amen on that one? He just doesn't fit. It's like, "Come on, God. How come Your arm's got to be hanging out of that box. Get in there. I want You to fit in my box that I like."

So, here's what I want you to do. Just look at what Peter says here to his church. We're going to ask this question: Can I do it?

Here's what Peter says: "His divine power..." – now, that's important. His divine power. Not you, me or whatever.

"His divine power..." – and that's pretty strong. God's power is strong. It raised Jesus from the dead.

"His divine power has given us everything required..." – now, that's important. Required. Because, when you have your requirements that you have to get in, that means you've got everything that you need to get in to then go do the things that you need to do. He says He's given you everything that you need, everything that's required, for life.

"Okay, well I don't think I can live out life."

"He's given you everything required for life. He's given you everything required for godliness."

You have everything you need. His divine power has given it to you. Not me. Not effort. His divine power has given everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Own glory and goodness. By these, His glory and goodness, He has given us very great and precious promises.

In other words, He's said, "Hey, look. I've given you everything that you have requirement of to live out life and to be godly and I've given you promises. I've given you things that you can trust me for so that you can share in the divine nature. You can look more like Jesus. You can share in that. And you can escape corruption that's in the world because of evil desire."

So, he's just like Paul. All the biblical writers say the same thing. They go, "This is true. God's given you the things that you require for life and godliness. He's done these things. He's given you promises. He's done this stuff."

That's what God has done for you. Now, look at what he says here, because this is important. He says, "For this very reason, make every effort..."

You say, "Well, I can't do it."

No, no, no, no, no. Don't limit God's grace in your life. Don't limit it. He says, "Make every effort."

Every effort. Man, if I could tell you how that's written in the original language, I mean, it's called, "Get after it."

What God has done for you is what He's done for you. He's given you all things that are required for you to live out the life that you need to live out.

So, "Make every effort to supplement..." – that word means to purchase; to buy. In other words, make every effort to get after it.

"...to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control."

Have you ever gotten to the place in your life where you start to follow God a little bit, you start to feel pretty good and, all of a sudden, you start to realize, "You know what? I'm actually overcoming some areas in my life that used to get me down. But, I'm only good for about a week."

You've done that before, right? Because, see, self-control needs something else after it. It needs some endurance. You follow what I'm talking about here? You need to be able to do that self-control. Which is interesting because look here: "Endurance with godliness."

Which means it's hard to be godly if you can't control yourself.

"Godliness with brotherly affection."

We go, "It's so hard to love other people. Man, it's so hard."

Well, hold on. If you don't have the knowledge and self-control and the endurance and the godliness, you're not going to be loving your brothers the way you're supposed to be loving your brothers. We go, "It's just so hard to do that."

"Brotherly affection with love."

We talk about love in Scripture and you go, "Man, that God, man. He's asking me to do some crazy things. I mean, turn the other cheek and not resist the evil person and love enemies. I mean, that stuff is crazy stuff."

Yeah. Well, it's crazy because if we're not making every effort to allow these things to happen in our lives, we're not going to be the people that God has created us to be. And look at what he says here. He says, "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,"

If. Make every effort. God gave you the things you need. God's grace has given you the ability to do the things that God has called you to do. Because, if these qualities are in you in increasing measure, look at what will happen. He doesn't say, "If they're not, you won't be a Christian."

He says, "They'll keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

See, when we adopt this idea that, "You know, I like this thing."

When you say, "I try to do it. But, whatever," what you're saying is that God's not given you everything that you've required to live life in godliness. And that's not true. Biblically, that's not true. He's given us everything that we need. We need to make the effort, then, to do the things. That's why the Church, for 2,000 years, has talked about spiritual disciplines. That's why we pray. That's why we read Scripture. That's why we have church. That's why we gather. So that we can become the things that God wants you and me to become. It's part of a growth process. For if you possess these qualities. God doesn't want us useless and unfruitful. He wants us to be able to be used for Him.

So, the question is, "Can I do it?" The answer, biblically, over and over again, is yes. Not of yourself. I mean, if before you were a Christian you tried to do things and tried to earn God's favor and all that stuff, that's a miserable existence. It's not going to happen. But, when you become a Christian, to say that God's grace has not given you the ability and God's Holy Spirit has not given you the capable power to do the things that God's called you to do is not being fair to Scripture at all.

And I'm not talking about in a legalistic way. I'm not talking about that we're not going to have our moments of failure and our moments of doubt and all those things. And grace is there for all of us. Peter doesn't say you're out of the Kingdom of God, he just says that sometimes when we're not doing these things, we're useless and unfruitful. We don't want to be that.

The next question is: "What's the payoff?" I always know whenever I teach something like this there's always somebody that goes, "Well, there shouldn't be any payoff for Jesus. We should just love Him because He's the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and all of this stuff."

Let me just tell you. Let me just go ahead and bust that bubble. Every single one of us has something on the inside that wants to know what's in it for me. All you've got to do is read the Scripture. They didn't come to Jesus because He was just this cool cat that they just wanted to serve. He was feeding people.

They said, "I'm hungry. I like this guy. He's healing people. I'm going to get in on that. He's got this stuff going on and I want to get involved."

Every single one of us – and listen, it can be perverted. But, every single one of us wants to know, "Well, what's the benefit here? What's the outcome?"

There's nothing wrong with that. Jesus didn't punish the disciples for asking what it would mean to be great in the Kingdom of God. He didn't squash their ambition. All He did was say, "You can't be great the way you want to be great. You want to be powerful and in control. You want to be great in the Kingdom of God, then you wash feet."

He didn't stymie their ambition. He just stymied their interpretation of what it meant to be great. Everybody in here, nobody wants to lose. I mean, I grew up in Kentucky. Basketball is like the biggest thing in Kentucky. I've got, really, two problems. I can't play and I'm short. So, I was always the last one picked and I hated being the last one picked. Why? Because, God wired you and me in a way that we don't want to lose. He wired us in a way that we want to succeed. So, what's the payoff? Let's look here. Let's look at what Solomon says here in Proverbs. Check this out. This is meaty stuff. We could really spend a series on this.

"My son," – and my daughter too – "if you accept my words and store up my commands..."

I'm not giving anybody any guilt. I'm not trying to be difficult. But, are we storing up God's Word in us? David said, "I store up Your Word. I've hidden it in my heart. What I find is the more I hide that in my heart, the less I start doing the things that I should be doing."

Am I storing up commandments?

"Listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding."

This is an "if" here. Salvation is not based on what you do. Okay? But, God's favor and God's blessing in our lives are often called to the if/then statements in the Bible. Listen to what He says:

"If you accept my words and store up my commands, listen closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore,"

I don't know if y'all ever get to that place we're you're going, "Come on, dude. Again? We're going to do some more ifs?"

"Furthermore, if you call out for insight and lift up your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasures,"

I'm going to ask you a question. Some of you all, it's going to be a little icky. Again, I'm not trying to give anybody a hard time. But, let me ask you a question. If I told you right now that right behind this wall, right behind the parking lot, two-feet deep somewhere out there is a big with three million dollars in it, most of you would not finish the sermon. You'd be out through those doors. Because, you'd be like, "I'm going to get me some of that."

Okay. Well, let me ask you a question. Again, I'm not trying to be negative. When is the last time you went to God's Word and you sought out God's Word like hidden treasure? It says, "If."

"Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."

Listen. This is huge. Look up here. This is massive. He stores up success for the upright. Who doesn't want God storing up some success for them? All of us. What's the payoff? The payoff is, man, if you get in God's Word and you start doing the things that God's asked you to do, you start trusting God for those things and you start living by faith or whatever, He stores up success for the upright. And the beautiful thing about God is it's both now and in the age to come. He's a shield for those who live with integrity.

Can I tell you, in my life, sometimes I've not done all that and there wasn't a shield for Chip Bennett when it all went down. Why? Because, I bombed. God says, "I'll give you a shield for those who are living with integrity."

"So that he may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His faithful followers."

Who doesn't want that in their life? Who in here wouldn't want God to be storing up success for you? And He dispenses it in the craziest of ways. But, He does because He's a good God. You say, "Well, can I learn it?"

Yeah.

"Can I do it?"

Yeah. What's the payoff? The abundant life. You see God work in our lives and everybody wants that. But, it just comes down to the question: "Has God really spoken to me? Because, for me to do it, I need to know it. Has He told me what it is that He wants me to do?"

Then it just becomes, "God, that power You've given to me, start working in me."

Start praying and watching God work in your life. And it's amazing. It's amazing what He'll do in your life. There's testimonies all through this church of people that have decided to follow God. So, here's the two questions I want you to ask yourself this week. These are take-home questions. Normally I do take-homes. These are the take-home questions. Just the questions. Here they are.

First: Do we – and you can personalize that to "do I" – have overwhelming evidence that God has spoken to us in a way where the majority of life's decision are addressed, at least, in a general fashion?

That's a big question to ask. That's really a big one. I want you to struggle with God this week. I want you to wrestle with God and ask Him, "God, is there enough stuff in here that I can believe that You have addressed in the majority of the things that I'm going to do in life, the majority of the things that I'm going to struggle with, have You addressed those in some sort of general fashion? Is that true or false?"

I want you to struggle with that this week. I want you to ask God to help you out with this. Is there overwhelming evidence, God that You've spoken to me and You've given me the things to do in every one of the things that probably are going to go on in life at least in some general fashion?

The next question that I want you to struggle with God on is this: If I believe God has spoken clearly on life's issues, then what am I going to do with that information? What am I going to do with it? What am I going to do when I go to Scripture and it says, "Love your wife?" What am I going to do with Scripture when it says to forgive? What am I going to do with Scripture when it says to handle it this way? Am I going to try to redirect it? Am I going to say, "I'm going to pray and find God's will. I need to find what God wants me to do. Because, I'm not quite sure that I like this."

Or, are you going to say, "Hey, this is what God wants me to do."

I want you to struggle with that. I want you to wrestle with God on those issues in your life this week. Here's what I want to pray for at the very end and we'll get out of here: I want you to think of an area in your life – we all have them – that we go, "Nah, this is probably an area of my life that I'm not really doing what God wants me to do. Uncle. I get it."

What I want you to do is I want you to see your Heavenly Father as not out to get you. He's not here to beat you up about that. He's not here to give you all kinds of guilt. There's no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. What I want you to see is that He's going, "Hey, I want to inspire you. I want to get you to the place where you're willing to jump off the stairs and let me catch you. That's what I want you to do. And I know some of those things are difficult, but if you'll trust me, I'm going to store up success for you, I'm going to put a shield in front of you, I'm going to protect you. You're going to see all kinds of things happen in your life. Just trust me. Jump off those stairs."

Just take that area, think about it for a second. Let's bow our heads and we'll end in prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would speak to us, Your children. You love us so much. You love us so much to not make this thing so difficult. Lord, we've made it difficult. We've made it so hard. And Lord, not only have we made it so hard, we've beat people upside the head with it, we've tried to tell them to do it on their own strength and power and we've done all kinds of things and gymnastics with Your word. Lord, it's not that complicated. It really isn't.

So, Lord, I pray that each of us, we've got that area in our life that we know is probably an area that we could get some help in, Lord, I pray that we would see You not giving us the guilt that maybe we feel like You would have given us, but, Lord, You're there to inspire and encourage us to trust You. Help us to trust You, God. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight.

Lord, we can approach the future in confidence, not because You've told us it, but because You know it. That's what gives us confidence. Lord, we can risk following You in Your Word because You don't risk. Lord, inspire us to see that it's not the finding, it's the doing. And help us to understand that You've told us those things and we can learn them, we can do them and the payoff is incredible.

So, Lord, we love You, we thank You, we praise You and we honor You for what You're doing in our lives. We pray, God, that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us in everything that we do. Bring us back safely to when we meet again and help us, Lord, to bring a few people with us to hear some of this life-changing freedom of Your Word. We thank You for everything. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "Amen."

Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him.

Blueprint Myth Week 1: Untangling the Hairball

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

> Mommy told me that if I'm good and I read my Bible and say my prayers, God will help me discover my destiny. Like in the movies! Find my perfect princess, be a hero, save the world. But, what if I mess it up? What if I'm not brave enough?

> Will God take away my happy ending if I fail in my duties as a mother? What is God's will in my life anyway? I thought I did everything right. Why do I feel so overwhelmed all the time? I wish God would just set the table for me and all I had to do was sit at it. Maybe I just need to pray more, read my Bible and talk to my pastor.

> Talk to my pastor, they say. Connect and have more accountability. Serve more, they say. Well, I'm doing all of these things and I still feel so lost. I thought that as I got older I'd be able to discover what God's perfect plan was for my life. And yet, here we are in debt, struggling with lust. It seems like I'm just surviving. Where did I mess it up? Why won't God just speak to me like He does in the Bible and tell me the game plan? Sometimes I wonder: Is there really a plan that God wrote for my life that I'm supposed to follow?

> All these years and I still have to tiptoe to do the right thing. What about my free will? Maybe there is no rulebook. Maybe I can relax a little. Maybe His will and His call are too separate things. I don't know anymore. I just wish I could see my plan. I wish I could just see my blueprint.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and mobile app. We've got people that drive trucks and listen. We've got people in Seattle, Washington that listen. We've got people all around the country and around the world. Would you believe we have over 1,000 people that listen to the things that we do here at Grace? So, welcome to all of you all and thanks for listening. Let's give them a big clap. That's awesome. I love that.

I don't know about you all, but when we start a new series, I am pumped. And I didn't drink any Mountain Dew. I'm just still drinking Perrier. So, I'm pumped. I'm excited about the new series. I hope that you are too. If this is your first time, you just need to go, "I hit the jackpot. I showed up today as they're beginning a new series. That's awesome."

So, we welcome you. It's a good time to be here. You know, many of you all know this, but some of you don't. I also am a professor. I teach at college and seminary level stuff. When you're a professor, you have sort of a portfolio of classes that you teach. Because, when you've got to put all that stuff together, it takes a lot of time and effort and you want to sort of stay teaching those classes. If they give you something new, then you've got to go to all that work to do just a one-off class. It's sort of tough.

Well, within my portfolio of classes, I teach systematic theology. I teach Systematic 1 and Systematic 2. When I start off those classes after you get through the syllabus, the book, papers and grading and all that stuff during the first class, I talk about the difference to my students between embedded theology and deliberative theology. Now, don't get whacked out with what is going on here with these words or whatever. I'll make sense of everything. First of all, theology, which is properly the study of God, basically is what we say about God. Everybody has something to say about God. Everybody does. Even if you say that God doesn't exist, you're still making a statement about God. Everybody has those things.

But, everybody also has embedded understandings of God and we learn that just along the way like we do everything else in life. Whether it be things that we feel about the world, things that we feel about issues, social stuff or whatever. All of those things. We have embedded stuff that we learned along the way from mom, dad, culture or whatever. But, in the church or even outside of the church, we've learned certain things that have just sort of been caught. They're sort of like the folksy things that we know to be true.

Those are things that we just carry with us. If you grew up in a non-denominational setting, a Baptist setting, a Presbyterian setting, a Catholic setting, a Pentecostal-Charismatic setting, there are certain things that are just part of those groups that we call embedded theology. And everybody has them. So, when my students come in, I say, "I want to move you from the things that you hold to be true and that you feel that are true to actually moving to what we call a deliberative theology where you really start thinking through issues using critical reasoning skills, logic and ultimately looking at Scripture in all of the 66 books as to whether or not the things that we hold to be true are, in fact, true."

And, invariably, in all of my classes, people make changes between the things that they thought when they came in to when they leave. And I don't have a predetermined outcome of what I want them to believe. I just want them to be challenged. So, what I want to do over the next four weeks is I want to do that with you all. I want to move from an embedded theology to a deliberative theology in a perennial issue in the church. And that issue is God's will. That is a very sticky issue to many people. We probably don't talk about it a lot. We probably don't say a lot about it. But, many, many of us have had those times where we just simply don't know. What does God want me to do? How does He want me to act?

We freeze up and we seize up because it's complicated issues. So, what I want to do is I want to talk with you. I want you to go on a journey with me in this particular thing. Because, it is an issue. It's an issue. There's over 100 books written every single year on God's will. Let me just let you in on a little bit of knowledge: They don't all agree. There's thousands of sermons preached every year by ministers on God's will. I'm going to let you in a little bit of news here: They don't all agree. There's hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of conversations that take place throughout churches across the world every year, whether via text or in small groups or whether with friends. What does God want me to do? How does God want me to act? What does He want me to say? All of these things. And the issue is it's a complicated deal. It's a hairball that needs to be untangled.

And we usually, when someone starts talking about something that we sort of hold to be true, an embedded theology, walls go up and defense go up because it's like, "Man, hold on. You're talking about things that I've known to be true."

Because, we're going to talk about some things that might make you go, "Oh, man."

Because, when we talk about God's will, people go, "Let me tell you how to find it. Here's the way you find it. You pray and God's going to give you a peace about it."

You all have heard that. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that at all. In fact, I could tell you where there's passages in the Bible where people are doing God's will and we know they're doing God's will and they're experiencing anything but a peace about it. Okay? You know, people say, "Well, I need a sign," even though Jesus said, "Unbelievers look for signs."

"I'm going to put a fleece out like Gideon."

The story of Gideon is about unbelief. Even though God answered Gideon, it's not a story of faith. It's a story of unbelief. Just like the story of Doubting Thomas when he said, "I need to touch Jesus' wounds."

That's not a sign of faith. That's a sign of unbelief. Even though Jesus honored it and answered it, we shouldn't take away from that passage of Scripture that that's what we should be doing. So, we're going to have to untangle this hairball because there's a lot of things that float around at the embedded or folks' type of understanding of religion that we want to try to move away from and see if we can maybe find some better ways to talk about this issue.

Now, here's why I think that there is a big issue concerning this in the church. I just want you to follow along with me. We're going to have a little bit of fun. Everybody's seen those action movies where people dress up in those black suits so that they can't be seen at night, like ninja suits with the smoke bombs and all that stuff. So, I want you to imagine. Because, I think this is what we really think at some level. Not the ninja stuff and smoke bombs and action movie stuff, but where I'm going with this story. I think we all go, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's where we're going."

So, let's assume that we're all dressed up in our black outfit and we're going to sort of sneak into heaven. The angels and God just somehow don't see us. We're just really good ninjas, okay? This is not theologically accurate. I'm just asking you to follow along.

People who it's their first time here are like, "Man, this guy's crazy."

"Are we in Colorado, honey? Are they smoking something?"

Anyway, we get up into heaven and we know that there's this room that we can find. We get in and in the room are all these file cabinets. They're all in alphabetical order. And we know that if we can find the file cabinet with our name and our folder in it and open that thing up, pull that folder open – you know, you've got your tool belt, your black suit and your flash light. You open that thing up, turn your flashlight on and we just know, deep down inside, that there's a blueprint in there. That's God's blueprint for our life. If we can just find that blueprint, life would be great.

I would like for you to go on a journey with me over the next four weeks to understand that that's probably not the best way to refer to God's will. In fact, that's why we call this the "blueprint myth." I think there's a lot more flexibility and a lot more openness to the things that God has for you and me than we give ourselves credit for. And I think, rather than God's will becoming this thing of bondage and sort of seizing us up, I think we're going to find out that it's incredibly liberating and incredibly freeing because God's not a God that puts us in bondage. He's a God that brings us freedom.

So, when we talk about God's will in the church, we usually talk about finding it. What I want to do is I just want you to follow with me for a little bit because you probably haven't thought through these things. It's tough, sometimes, to think through issues that are embedded. But, let's ask a question here. What are we really saying when we tell people to find God's will?

You may say, "Well, I've never really thought about that. I just tell them to find it."

Well, what are we saying? Well, first of all what we're saying is that not everyone can readily access it. See, this is my clicker. Everybody always asks, "What do you hold in your hand?"

It's not a phone. I'm not waiting for a phone call from one of my kids or something. This is the clicker. What this does it this moves this forward and moves it back. It's really simple. They knew I was from Kentucky. They're like, "Green is go, Chip. Red is back. There's nothing else you can press to mess anything up."

So, that's what this is. But, let me use this for an example. If my clicker is right here, I can readily access it. But, if you take my clicker from me, I have to go find it. So, when we say we're going to find God's will, we're saying not everyone can readily access it. Is that true? We're going to talk about that. How about this one? We also say when we've got to find God's will that there's a hidden knowledge to be discovered. That, you know, if we do these right things and God's a little sneaky and we've got to do a few things and jump through the right hoops or whatever and then we'll find it.

Another thing we're saying when we say you need to find God's will is that we can shortcut character development. This is huge. See, if I could give you the eight things to do to find God's will, then you don't really have to become more like Jesus or look more like Jesus or do any of that stuff. You've just got to find it and off you go.

So, is finding God's will the best way to talk about it? I'd like to ask you to go on a journey with me. I don't think that's the best way to talk about it and I'm not trying to get on anybody's toes or hurt anybody's feelings. As your pastor, all I want to do is I want to see you live the abundant life that God has for you. I want you to live a blessed life. I think that as we progress through this series, I think you're going to realize that, you know what? A lot more freedom and it's not as hard as I've made it out to be to know God's will for my life.

So, let's go on a journey. Let's untangle the hairball. When people come up to me, they come up to me all the time and say, "Chip, what do you think about this?"

You know, normally, it's a biblical issue. Sometimes it's other issues. But, normally it's a biblical issue.

"What do you think about this?"

Well, the first thing I do is I say, "What do you mean when you say 'this?'"

Because, I've found that until you know what the terms mean for the person who's asking, you can't assume that they see the term the same way you see it. So, I'm going to ask you a question. When we talk about God's will, what are we talking about? Because, if you're going to find it or know it or do it or any of those things, you sort of need to know what it is that you're going to find, know or do when you talk about God's will? What is God's will? I think that, if I asked that question and we got 10 people, we might get 10 different answers.

I'd like to submit to you that there are two ways in which Scripture talks about God's will. There's two ways and they're very important for us to get. This is where I'm hoping that that notebook that we gave you that was on your seat, that you're going to start opening that up and go, "Yeah, yeah. This is a good time to start writing some stuff down."

Okay? That's my gentle way, without guilting you, to say, "This is a good time to take notes. Okay?"

I want you to do that. So, here's the first way Scripture talks about God's will. It talks about a sovereign will. God has a will that stands above history, choices, leaders and all of this. It is a sovereign will that God is sovereignty in control. In other words, He can do what He wants.

Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases."

There is a sovereign will of God and this is a will that's going to get done. It's just going to get done. And let me give you some biblical understanding here on God's will. Isaiah is recording for us here in chapter 46 something that God says. God says, "Remember what happened long ago? For I am God and there is no other. I am God and no one is like me."

In other words, He's telling us, "There's no other God like me. There's nobody like me," and then He's going to tell us why there's nobody else like Him. Here's what He says:

He says, "I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done."

In other words, "I'm the one that's deciding what went on from the beginning to the end. I'm the one that declared it. I'm the one that chose it. So, there can't be anybody else that's involved in that process. I'm the one who did it. There's no other god like me saying, 'My plan will take place and I will do all my will.'"

This is God that's talking about this here. He's saying, "There's a sovereign will that's going to get done. It doesn't make a difference what you do, what you say or anything. It's going to happen. Because, I'm the one that decided it would happen. I'm the one that declared it would happen. It's going to get done."

This is the sovereign will of God. We talk about what is God's will? Well, the way the Bible talks about God's will, first of all, is a sovereign will. Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 1. He says, "In Him we've also received an inheritance because we were predestined according to the plan of the one..." – listen – "...who works out everything."

Not every other day, not every other month, not every other thing that we decide to do. He works out everything in agreement with the purpose of His will. This is the sovereign will of God. You say, "What's God's will?"

God's will is a sovereign will that's going to get done. It doesn't make a difference what you and I think. It doesn't make a difference what you and I choose to do. God's will is going to get done. You see that in Peter when he's preaching on the Day of Pentecost to the Jewish people. He says, "Hey, you guys delivered up Jesus and you guys killed Jesus. You guys did that. But, you did exactly what God had determined would happen. And you go, "Well, how does that make sense?"

It ain't going to make any sense. I teach theology. It's not going to make any sense. This is why it's called faith and not knowledge. But, the bottom line is we can't short circuit the idea that there is a sovereign will of God. The biblical writers are very aware of this sovereign will. Paul is leaving the church at Ephesus. He's continuing his journeys. This is the church at Ephesus asking Paul – Luke is recording this for us here in Acts 18.

It says, "When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he declined."

He needed to go on.

He said, "Farewell," and he added – this is important. Listen. "I'll come back to you again if God wills."

And then he left. What's he saying? He's like, "I don't know if I'm going to come back or not. All I know is if God wants me to come back, I will. The way I'll know it's God's will is if I come back. I don't have to pray about it. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to do any of that stuff. I know that God's got this plan that I don't necessarily always know. I'm just trusting God. What I know is this."

James says the same thing. James says, "Why are you planning about what you're going to do three days from now or six years from now? You should be saying, 'If the Lord wills, this will happen tomorrow.'"

There is a sovereign will of God. This is important. This is why Moses tells us, in Deuteronomy 29:29, the first part of it – we'll look at the second part in a minute – "The hidden things belong to the Lord our God."

Lean in here. This is so important to get. There are some things in you and I's lives that God is not going to share with us beforehand. At all. So, when we talk about God's sovereign will, we don't participate in the knowledge of this beforehand. You say, "Well, that doesn't seem fair, Chip. I mean, why wouldn't God tell me everything that He wanted me to do?"

Well, if He told you everything that He wanted you to do and what He wanted you to accomplish, you wouldn't have to trust Him. You wouldn't have to put any faith in Him. See, this is the part of the will of God – and sometimes we do see it. But, it's down the road. Sometimes we look back and we go, "Oh, that God. He is something else. I mean, I made all those bad decisions and all that bad stuff and look what He did. I see His hand."

See, the sovereign will of God is a plan He's going to accomplish no matter what's going on. But, you and I are not available to that knowledge up front. That right there is a huge "get out of jail free" card. Because, that means some things I'm not going to know. That's great. Because, sometimes we want to know everything. Letting you know that you're not going to know everything is great.

Now, here's the other way God's will is used in Scripture: The synergistic will. You're like, "Man, that's a big word."

Okay. Let me explain what this means. It is a compound word. It comes from the Greek word which means to work together with. "Syn" and "ergo." Work together with. So, synergy is working together. Check this out: There is a will that God has for you and I's lives that He wants to work in us and together with us where we do the things that He wants us to do. And this is where we see the second part of Deuteronomy 29:29.

"The hidden things belong to the Lord our God."

Sovereign.

"But the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law."

In other words, God has revealed things to you and me that we don't have to go find. We just have to do. It's like, "Yeah, but I don't know that I always want to do what God wants me to do."

In fact, we've concocted some really good things in the American Church. It's like 99% of everything that you would ever think about doing, God's already answered that.

"Well, how am I supposed to treat my wife?"

Ephesians 5. It's there.

"Well, what am I supposed to do when somebody does me wrong at church?"

Matthew 18.

"What am I supposed to do when somebody does me wrong and I don't want to forgive them?"

Seventy times seven.

"Well, yeah. But, what am I supposed to do when somebody's like my enemy?"

Matthew 5. Love them. Isn't it funny how we'll do this? Well go, to something that's clearly been revealed, "You know what I need to do? God, I just need you to show me what you want me to do in this area of my life."

He's going, "I'm not going to answer that. I already told you."

"I just don't know what God wants me to do with my finances."

I'll get off that one. I want you to still love me, you know? But, the reality is God's revealed about 99% of everything you and I struggle through or whatever. He's given it to us. And here's the interesting thing: Scripture doesn't talk about finding it as the problem. Scripture lets us know that there's another problem. It's the "doing it" part. Listen to the way Jesus uses God's will. This is important.

He says this in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven."

It's like, wow. That's sobering. That's why we say here at Grace that the reason we do First Friday, the reason we do the outreaches that we do, the reason we get involved in the marathons and the running stuff and all the things that we do is because we want to make it really difficult to go to Hell in Lakewood Ranch. You know? That's why we do this stuff. We don't want anybody doing the "I didn't enter the kingdom of heaven."

But, look what He says here. This is important. He says, "But only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Now, here's the problem: If this is something that you've got to find, what if you don't find it? Some of you are like, "Well, I've tried to find some things sometimes and God didn't really talk to me."

Okay. Well, if you can't find it, you can't know it. If you can't know it, you can't do it. Well, if that's the case, we might be in really big trouble if we can't find it. We might be the ones not doing it, and that doesn't bode well for us. It's not the way Jesus uses it. Jesus doesn't use it as something that needs to be found. We see that, also, in the writer to the Hebrews.

"Now may the God of peace who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant," – Lean in here. Listen to this here – "equip you with everything good to..." – find God's will.

No. The problem is the doing. You need to be equipped with everything good to do His will, working in us [synergy] what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

See, we might want to move from the "finding" thing to thinking about the "doing" thing. We see this in Paul. Paul says, "Pay careful attention, everybody, to how you live."

In other words, this is important because people are watching you and people see you and people look at you and say, "Yeah, you're a Christian. I'm going to look at your life."

You need to pay careful attention how you live here. Not as unwise, but as wise. This is really important. Wisdom in the Bible isn't to people that are smart. Wisdom isn't the people in the Bible that can solve algebra or calculus or any of that stuff. People in the Bible that are wise are not the ones that have all the great wisdom to tell you how to do all this stuff. People in Scripture, in the book of Proverbs in the wisdom literature say you are wise if, and only if, you do what God has asked you to do. That's the wise person.

The unwise person does their own thing. Making the most of the time because the days are evil. So, don't be foolish. Understand the Lord's will. Here it is: "Go do it."

See, the synergistic will of God, we can participate. We don't have to. We can say we don't want to do this. People in the Bible didn't do God's will. They chose not to do it. But, the bottom line is He's revealed to you and me things that He wants you and me to do. Like people go, "You know, I just don't necessarily feel called to share my faith."

You don't need to pray about that. You might need to pray and seek God for the wisdom and the guidance and the ability and His Spirit to work in you to accomplish the things that He's asked you to do, but you don't need to ask the question, "Should I actually be somebody doing this?"

Because, that's just part of what He's asked us to do. He's revealed that to us. And isn't it crazy that we do that? You know? We're like praying, "You know, God, my wife just didn't do this thing right last night. I'm just not sure whether I should get her back or I should..."

No, no, no. You're supposed to love your wife as Christ loved the Church. You don't need to pray about that. You know, I love it. There was a women's convention with like 10-15 thousand people in the auditorium. You know? They have women's meetings and men's meetings and all that stuff. This was a women's meeting. At the end of the women's meeting, the person who was leading it in prayer to dismiss everybody said, "Oh, and by the way, if y'all would pray with us. There's someone here that we've learned that needs a financial miracle. They need $5,000. We just pray that God will deliver that."

Somebody in the seats goes, "Whoa. Hold on. We're not praying for that. Stop praying for that. There's 15,000 people here. Just get a dollar out of every purse and she'll have 3 times more than she needs."

"Man, I need to pray about that. I need to find God's will."

No. Whoever has this world's good and sees somebody in need and doesn't help them, how does the love of God dwell in them? And you go, "I need to pray about it."

No. You don't need to pray about it. You need to do it. You say, "Well, I don't know about that. What if it doesn't happen?"

That's where you go back to God's sovereign will and you've got to trust Him. We don't like to trust Him though, do we? We like to know. Come on, now. Be honest with me. We like to have assurance, man. I want the best of both worlds. I want to make sure I get into heaven. I want to make sure that God don't get too much of me down here. Because, if He gets too much of me, it might require me to trust Him.

So, here's the deal. Let's recap here. Okay. The sovereign will of God – this is good teaching. This is good teaching, okay? I'm telling you. I want to see you free and not in bondage. Okay? Three people are like, "Yeah," and other people are like, "I don't like this. This is messing me up. You lost me with 'embedded.'"

So, sovereign will requires faith. We need to have faith in God. We trust Him. We just trust Him. We don't know. We trust Him. My kids don't know that I'm going to catch them when they jump off the stairs. They think I'm going to. They trust that I will. I could not catch them, but they trust that I will. Sometimes I would like to not catch them. Right on through.

Anyway, so. Kids are hellions sometimes. They take after their mom. Anyway, so sovereign will is faith. We've got to do that. Okay? The synergistic will is obedience. We follow what God wants us to do. I can spend hours and hours and hours on biblical passages like what I'm going to read you here that show you how God has spoken to you and me. He's revealed things very clearly. This is Paul talking to the Thessalonian church.

He says, "We exhort you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle,"

That's not something we really like to do at all in the American church, is it? You know, like if you found somebody that's sort of not doing the things God's asked them to do and they're just sort of showing up and are not really involved and not really doing the God thing or whatever. You need to warn those who are idle who are like, "I'm out."

Okay? Comfort the discouraged. That's what we're supposed to do. Help the weak.

"Yeah, I don't want to help the weak because they end up making bad decisions. That's why they're..."

No, no, no. Help the weak. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone.

"I don't want to be patient with everyone. I had to tell this guy here to get his act together and this guy here to get his act together. And I'm not doing that."

See, this is it right here. Real clear. I mean, if we just did that that'd be like 99% of everything that we'd ever do in the world. He keeps going. Listen.

"See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone."

You go, "Well, when can I get them back?"

There's a Greek word for that. It's called "never." You say, "I don't really like that."

Okay. Well, that's fine. "See it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all."

"Yeah, well what about me?"

No. You're supposed to look at what's good for all.

"Well, I don't like that."

That's fine. You don't have to like it. But, it's clear. It's like God's revealed things to us and what we do is we go, "Well, I need to pray about it. I need to find God's will about it."

Paul's going, "Hey, guys. Here's what we do right here. We do this right here: We rejoice always."

"Yeah, but what happens when I have a bad day?"

"We rejoice always."

"Yeah, but what happens when I have a fight with my spouse?"

"We rejoice always."

"Yeah, but what happens when I..."

"We rejoice always. We pray constantly."

In other words, when somebody needs prayer, we're there. Anybody ever do this? Somebody comes to you after church and says, "Will you pray for this?"

You're like, "I've got you, buddy. I've got you."

Then three weeks go by and they go, "Man, thanks for praying."

And you're like, "Oh... Oh... brother, I prayed for you for the last three weeks. The Holy Ghost came down in my house as I prayed for you."

Come on. Y'all know that's the way it is.

"Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything."

"I don't want to give thanks in that."

"In everything."

Then, listen to what Paul says as he's told you all this stuff here. This is what he says: "This is God's will for you."

That's the way it's supposed to look.

"I don't like that."

Okay. That's fine. Nobody's saying that the doing is easy. Nobody's saying that the following is easy. But, it's not a finding in the Bible. It's a doing. And I know what you're thinking, because y'all are smart. This is a smart church. You're thinking, "But, what about that day-to-day stuff?"

I've got you.

"All those big words and theology and all that stuff. But, what about the day-to-day things? You know, what about what job should I take? There you go. Now we're talking about something that matters to me. I don't care about that theology stuff. Show me the money, honey. That's what I want right there. What job should I take? Where should I live? Got you now, Bennett. Or, how about this one here? What should I do this summer? There we go. Now we're starting to make sense. And how about this? Who should I date, because I'm married?"

So, the deal is, you know – why are y'all laughing? Anyway, so we've got all this stuff here and we go, "This is the deal."

Lean in. This is huge. This is the deal: Sometimes does God tell people what job to take? Yep. Sometimes does He tell them who to date and marry? Yep. He did that for Hosea. Yep. All of that stuff. That is the difference between God's call and God's will. God, when He calls you to something, will not be misunderstood. He'll let you know.

"I want you to preach. Go. I want you to go live here. Go."

You say, "Well then, what do I do with this stuff here if I don't have a specific call?"

This is the beauty of God. He gave you a brain. He gave you some freedom. This is open. What God says – and we're going to look at this over the next three weeks – in the day-to-day stuff that you should use wisdom. And I'm going to explain to you what the Scriptures say about wisdom and how we do these things in our lives and then we go make a decision and we're done. And we don't freeze up and we don't seize up. Because, we know that there's a sovereign will of God that He's going to accomplish His plans even when you and me make bad choices.

What I want to untangle out of everybody today is that trying to find a mysterious, specific will for every decision in our life will result in ineffectiveness and confusion in your life. And I don't want that for you and God doesn't want that for you. So, if you didn't open up your book at this point, this is the time to open up your book. We're going to do the takehomes. These are the ones where the rubber meets the road. This is the takehome. Think about this. Chew on this for the week.

First of all, lets affirm collectively that God guides rather than hides. He's not sneaky. He's not trying to hide stuff from you.

"Chip, if you do these eight things and jump through this hoop, say this prayer and turn around backwards and all this stuff."

I mean, we've all done it. You open up your Bible like, "Okay, God. Okay. Judas went and hung himself. I'm going to get a mulligan on that one. What thou doest, doest quickly."

Like, "Uh oh. Okay, God. We're going to put that aside."

We've all done that and played the biblical game. Or you get the little sheet of paper and go, "Okay, God. If it goes in the trash can, it's Your will. I'm going to shoot again."

See, that doesn't work. God's not trying to hide from you. He guides. Listen to what the psalmist says: "Teach me to do Your will."

Not finding. It's doing. "God, I need some help. I need some help to do the things You've called me to do, for You're my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground. God, I want to do what it is that You've called me to do and I realize that in my own strength and my own abilities I'm probably not going to do that. So, God, I need You. I need You to help me. I need You to provide for me."

And the deal is this: God has given us all the provision that we need to live a life of godliness. He's given all of those things to us. So, the problem is not the finding. The problem is us syncing up with God in a way that we do it. We do it in such a way that the Spirit leads and guides us and leads us to the place that we want to be. Everybody wants to be on level ground. Everybody's tired of this. We're all tired of that life. So, God guides. He doesn't hide.

Secondly, let's agree to examine, if it's your first time, or reexamine God's will in light of Scripture. Let's just agree that over the next several weeks we're going to be here, we're going to be focused, we're going to learn, we're going to really listen to Scripture and we're going to really examine this in light of Scripture. Not in light of what we maybe thought to be true or held on to be true or things that we sort of worked with. Let's really work through this.

Thirdly and lastly, let's realize that God doesn't want us playing the guessing game. He wants you and me to live out a blessed life. God's not trying to hide from you. He's not trying to keep something back from you. I mean, it says will He not give us all good things? I mean, it's not like He's trying to play a game where you've got to guess everything and jump through hoops. He really wants you to live a blessed life. Here's the way the writer of the Proverbs said it:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart."

Trust Him. You don't know. You trust. Trust has an element of "I don't know." But, I trust Him. And do not rely on your own understanding. And we do that. We're like, "Oh, yeah. Well, see, the Bible says to do this. But, if I did that then it would create this in my life and I don't want to create this in my life. I want to do that."

That's relying on your own understanding. That's doing what you think is right. It's not what God asked us to do. God says, "Hey, I've got it. I'm the one who created the world. I created you. I formed you in your mother's womb. I know. Trust me. Don't go your way. There's a way that seems right to a man."

Proverbs 14:12 and, in case you miss it, you get it in Proverbs 16:25 again. It's like a double-barrel shotgun. There's a way that seems right to man, but the end leads in death. It's not a good place to go. Don't rely on your own understanding. In all your ways, know Him. Relationship. Union with Him. Abiding in Him. And He will make your paths straight.

Isn't that what you want? You don't want that seizing up and freezing up trying to figure out what toothpaste should I use. God's like, "Four out of five dentists choose Colgate. Use that."

No, I'm just kidding. I'd like to meet those four out of five, because everybody's got four out of five. Anyway, the point is that I want to encourage you to take a journey with me over the next couple of weeks. Put aside whatever it is that you hold right now and evaluate it. If, at the end of a couple weeks, you think I'm crazy, that's fine. I'm not trying to get you to believe the way I believe. As your pastor, I'm just trying to equip you to become everything that God has called you to be. I want you to live a life of liberated freedom, not a life of seizing up and freezing up and always wondering what God has for you.

So, would you give me the privilege or praying for all of you all? Let's bow our heads.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much to get to do what I do. I feel like I'm the most privileged and fortunate person in the whole world to get to be the pastor of a wonderful, growing, serving church. It's awesome. Lord, I realize that everybody here is at different places in their lives. Some are here today that haven't even really ever thought about living for You. They just don't even know what that would look like. Maybe today they're thinking, "Maybe I should live for God."

God, I pray that what they would know is that You want them to come home. You love them. You care. You sent Jesus for that reason. To bring them home. So, Lord, I pray that they'd make that decision. And if they do, let them find somebody on staff or somebody at the hub and say, "Hey, I made that decision. I want to start living for God."

Then, Lord, there's people in here that are at different places in their lifestyle for God. Some people are sort of new and some people have been doing it for a long time. Lord, what I pray is that over the next few weeks You would bring us as a collective body to a place of freedom on this issue so that we don't have to go back and keep revisiting it and keep re-dealing with it. That we can figure it out and move on. Because, God, I don't believe that Your will is that confusing. I believe it's a lot easier than we've made it. Unfortunately, we've just allowed the world and culture and our own views and our own desires to creep in to make this thing complicated when, in reality, it's probably not as complicated as we've made it.

So, Lord, I pray for this church. I pray for everybody here that You would help us to move on this journey so that we can forever get these things settle in our lives and get about doing the work that You've called us to do. So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, and I pray, Lord, that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, help us to bring some people along with us. Some friends, neighbors, family and all of those good things so that they can hear about Your Word and hear about Your will for their life as well.

We thank You, Lord, for being such a good God. We thank You, Lord, for caring for us in the way that You do. We thank You for Your Scriptures, Lord, that lead and guide us. We thank You for everything. We love You, praise You and honor You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen." Give the Lord a big hang clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. Have a great day.